What Is Retinal Detachment?
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the back of your eye. This can cause loss of vision that can be partial or total, depending on how much of the retina is detached. When there is detachment in the retina, its cells may be seriously deprived of oxygen. This is a medical emergency.
The retina is a light-sensitive membrane located at the back of the eye. When light passes through your eye, the lens focuses an image on your retina. The retina converts the image to signals that it sends to your brain through the optic nerve. The retina works with the cornea, lens, and other parts of your eye and brain to produce normal vision.
There’s a risk of permanent vision loss if the retinal detachment is left untreated or if treatment is delayed.
Symptoms of Retinal Detachment
There is no pain as a symptom of this disease, but there are usually symptoms before your retina becomes detached. Primary symptoms are:
- Blurred vision
- Partial vision loss, which makes it seem as if a curtain has been pulled across your field of vision, with a dark shadowing effect
- Sudden flashes of light that appear when looking to the side
- Suddenly seeing many floaters, which are small bits of debris that appear as black flecks or strings floating before your eye
Types of Retinal Detachment
There are three types of Retinal Detachment:
Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment
If you are having a rhegmatogenous retinal detachment means you have a tear or hole in your retina. This makes the fluid from within your eye slip through the opening and gets behind your retina. This results in the separation of the retina from the retinal pigment epithelium, which is the membrane that provides the retina with nourishment and oxygen, causing the retina to detach. It is the most common type of retinal detachment.
Tractional Retinal Detachment
Tractional retinal detachment occurs when scar tissue on the retina’s surface contracts and that causes the retina to pull away from the back of your eye. This is a less common type of detachment that typically affects people with diabetes mellitus. Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus can lead to issues with the retinal vascular system. This vascular damage can later lead to scar tissue accumulation in your eye that could cause retinal detachment.
In exudative detachment, there are no tears or breaks in your retina. Retinal diseases such as the following cause this type of detachment:
- an inflammatory disorder causing fluid accumulation behind your retina
- cancer behind your retina
- Coats’ disease, which causes abnormal development in the blood vessels such that they leak proteins that build up behind your retina.
Who Is At Risk For Retinal Detachment?
Risk factors for retinal detachment include:
- posterior vitreous detachment, which is common in older adults
- extreme nearsightedness, which results in more strain on the eye
- a family history of retinal detachment
- Eye Injury
- age being over 50 years old
- prior history of retinal detachment
- complications from cataract-removal surgery or Lasik Surgery
- diabetes mellitus
Diagnosis of Retinal Detachment
To diagnose this issue, your doctor will perform a thorough eye exam. Get your eye test done at best eye hospital. They’ll check:
- your vision
- your eye pressure
- the physical appearance of your eye
- your ability to see colours
Your doctor might also test the ability of your retina to send impulses to your brain. They may check the blood flow throughout your eye and specifically in your retina. The doctor may also recommend an ultrasound of your eye. This is a painless test that uses sound waves to create an image of your eye.
Treatment of Retinal Detachment
In most cases, surgery is necessary to repair a detached retina. For minor detachments or tears of the retina, a simple procedure may be done in your doctor’s office.
If you have a hole or tear in your retina but your retina is still attached, your doctor may perform a procedure called photocoagulation with a laser. The laser burns around the tear site, and the resulting scarring affixes your retina to the back of your eye.
Another option is cryopexy, which is freezing with intense cold. Your doctor applies a freezing probe outside of your eye in the area over the retinal tear site, and the resulting scarring will help hold your retina in place.
Another option is pneumatic retinopexy to repair minor detachments. For this procedure, your doctor will put a gas bubble in your eye to help your retina move back into place up against the wall of your eye. Once your retina is back in place, your doctor will use a laser or freezing probe to seal the holes.
This involves placing a band around the outside of your eye to push the wall of your eye into your retina, getting it back into place for proper healing. Scleral buckling may be done in combination with a vitrectomy. Cryopexy or retinopexy is performed during the scleral buckle procedure.
Another option is vitrectomy, which is used for larger tears. This procedure involves anesthesia and is often performed as an outpatient procedure, but may require an overnight stay in the hospital. Your doctor will use small tools to remove abnormal vascular or scar tissue and vitreous, gel-like fluid from your retina. Then they’ll put your retina back into its proper place, commonly with a gas bubble. Cryopexy or retinopexy is performed during the vitrectomy procedure.
Some people will recover completely, especially if their macula isn’t damaged. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for the clearest vision and is located near the center of the retina. However, some people may not regain full vision. This can occur if their macula is damaged and treatment isn’t sought quickly enough.
Prevention of Retinal Detachment
In general, there’s no way to prevent retinal detachment. However, you can take steps to avoid retinal detachment that results from an eye injury by wearing protective eyewear when playing sports or using tools, having a good diet for the eyes. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar and see your doctor regularly. Get yearly eye checkups, especially if you have risks for retinal detachment.
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