Retinal Detachment occurs when the retina separates from the wall of the eye. The retina is a thin piece of tissue that lines the inside of the eye. The nerve cells in the retina sense light coming into the eye and send signals through the nerves to the brain about what the eye sees.
When the retina is detached, it stops working and the eye cannot process what it sees. This causes sight loss. If not cared for right away, retinal detachment can lead to vision loss or even loss of sight.
What Causes Retinal Detachment?
A retinal detachment is most often caused by:
- Eye trauma
- Problems from eye surgery for cataracts or laser surgery
- Retinal and macular diseases
What Are The Symptoms Of Retinal Detachment?
Symptoms of a retinal detachment may be spots, floaters, and/or flashes of light in your field of sight. You may also have blurry vision or see a shadow come from the top or side of your eye. These symptoms can come on slowly if the retina has just peeled back from the wall of the eye. They can also come on all at once if the retina comes loose quickly. While there is often no pain with retinal detachment, it is an emergency. If you experience signs, see an eye doctor right away. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances of regaining lost sight.
What Are The Types Of Retinal Detachment?
- Rhegmatogenous — A tear in the retina lets fluid pool under it and push it away from the wall of the eye. This type of detachment is the most common.
- Tractional — Scar tissue on the retina shrinks, pulling it from the wall of the eye. This is the least common form of detachment.
- Exudative — Fluid leaks under the retina even though there are no tears or leaks. This type of detachment is usually caused by a retinal disease.
Who Is At Risk For Retinal Detachment?
A retinal detachment can occur at any time, but you are at an increased risk for retinal detachment if you:
- Have an eye injury
- Have a family history of retinal detachment
- Have a retinal detachment in one eye
- Are near-sighted
- Have had cataract surgery
- Have other eye diseases or disorders
- Are over 40, white, or male
How Is Retinal Detachment Treated?
A retinal detachment needs surgery to reattach the retina to the wall of the eye. There are many options and only your doctor can pick how to treat it. Some treatments include:
- Laser surgery — small burns are made to ‘weld’ the retina back into place.
- Cryopexy — freezes area around the hole or tear to help reattach retina.
- Scleral buckle — a tiny band is attached to the eye to hold the retina in place.
- Vitrectomy — removal of the gel-like substance (vitreous) from the center of the eye through a small incision to help the eye maintain its round shape, thus helping the retina to lie flat.
- Pneumatic retinopexy — gas bubble is injected into eye to replace gel-like substance. Pushes the retina back against the wall of the eye.
These treatments are often used together. Over 90% of retinal detachments can be reattached and most of the time, at least some vision is regained. But, the sooner the retina is fixed, the more chance you have of getting back your vision. That is why it is vital to call an eye doctor as soon as you have any signs of retinal detachment.