What is a Retinal Detachment?
The retina is a thin layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye that relays impulses to the optic nerve. In rare cases, the retina can separate from the blood vessels that provide it with oxygen and nutrients.
What Causes Retinal Detachment?
A retinal detachment can be caused by retinal disease, injury, scar tissue, inflammation or diabetes, but most retinal detachments are spontaneous. People who exhibit the greatest risk for retinal detachment include individuals who:
- Have had a retinal detachment in the past
- Have a family history of retinal detachment
- Are extremely nearsighted
- Have experienced eye trauma
- Have had diabetic retinopathy or inflammation
- Have undergone cataract surgery
Retinal Detachment Surgery
Almost all patients with a retinal detachment require surgery to prevent permanent vision loss. The type of surgery depends on the details of the patient’s detachment.
Photocoagulation (laser surgery) or cryopexy (freezing treatment) — Laser surgery or freezing treatment may be sufficient to prevent the retina from pulling away if the retinal holes or tears are small.
Scleral buckle — A surgeon sews a plastic, silicone band to the sclera to keep the retina in place and allow it to reattach to the back of the eye. Sometimes, the vitreous fluid behind the detached retina must be removed so the retina can recede to the back of the eye again.
Pneumatic retinopexy — A surgeon injects a gas bubble into the center of the eyeball to flatten the retina against the back of the eye. Using a laser beam or freezing probe, the surgeon then seals the retina into the proper position.
Vitrectomy — The surgeon removes the vitreous gel, so that it does not pull on the retina. The surgeon will replace the vitreous fluid with a saline solution and often a temporary gas bubble is placed to push the retina back into position. Vitrectomy can be combined with scleral buckle if necessary.
What are the Warning Signs of a Detached Retina?
When the retina is not receiving oxygen and nutrients, it begins to deteriorate and can cause permanent vision loss. A detached retina is painless, but it is often accompanied by symptoms like:
- Blurred vision
- Eye floaters
- Flashes of light
- Reduced peripheral vision
A Retinal Specialist to the Rescue
If you experience any symptoms of retinal detachment, call your ophthalmologist immediately. Swift intervention will help preserve your vision. You can maintain healthy eyesight by scheduling yearly comprehensive eye exams, so make an appointment today.