When you think about your health, you might think about various parts and aspects of your body (your heart, your lungs, your weight), but you might forget to consider your eyes. If your eyesight hasn’t changed, or you’re stocked up on contacts, a visit to your eye doctor might fall through the cracks. However, it’s important to remember that eye exams with your eye care provider are just as important as physical exams with your PCP. Just as your PCP checks for issues, so does your eye doctor. For instance, did you know your ophthalmologist might be able to catch issues like a detached retina before you would notice?

At Everett & Hurite, we want our patients to be as educated as possible on why visiting the eye doctor is so important. Here are five things you may not have known about retinal detachment that your ophthalmologist could tell you:

1. Retinal Detachment is Dangerous

The retina is an important part of the eye; without it, we wouldn’t be able to see! The retina is connected to a network of blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to support its function. It is a thin layer of tissue covering most of the back of the eye, and its job is to convert the light it receives into signals the brain can understand and use to form the images we see. It is a very serious issue and one that can be hard for an individual to notice. 

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position inside the eye, which can lead to the tearing away of the retina from its underlying tissues. These tissues are what keep the retina healthy and functional, so once separated, the retina can no longer function normally, and permanent blindness becomes an imminent possibility.

Types of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can be categorized into three main types:

  • Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment: Caused by retinal tear or hole in the retina.
  • Tractional retinal detachment: Resulting from scar tissue or abnormal growths pulling the retina.
  • Exudative (or serious) retinal detachment: Caused by fluid buildup beneath the retina.

2. It’s Crucial to Know the Warning Signs  

Retinal detachments are serious medical emergencies and should be treated as such. When the retina detaches, it separates from its underlying tissues, causing vision impairment or loss. However, retinal detachment is also typically painless. Because of this, someone with retinal detachment might not notice that anything is wrong, or might not think that it’s serious enough to visit a doctor. For this reason, it’s important to be familiar with retinal detachment symptoms and check in with your ophthalmologist if you’re experiencing:

  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes
  • An unusually high number of “floaters,” or spots/wavy lines that drift across your field of vision
  • The onset of blurred vision
  • Reduced or darkened side or peripheral vision
  • Reduced or darkened vision generally

3. Know Your Risk Factors

For the same reasons knowing the symptoms of retinal detachment is important, so is knowing risk factors. If any of the following apply to you, you may be at increased risk of developing retinal detachment:

  • Over 50 years of age
  • Family history of retinal detachment
  • Extreme nearsightedness, also known as myopia
  • Previous retinal detachment
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Previous severe eye injury
  • History of eye diseases or disorders, such as retinoschisis, uveitis, or thinning of the peripheral retina (lattice degeneration)
  • Posterior vitreous detachment, where thick fluid (vitreous) in the eye separates from the retina.

4. If Your Retinal Detachment Goes Untreated, You Could Lose Your Vision

If a detached retina is so painless that you might not even notice it, what’s the big deal? Well, it’s important to remember how important the retina is. If it stays separated from its supportive underlying tissues for too long, you could end up with permanent vision loss. Fortunately, there are retinal detachment treatments. 

Retinal detachment treatment you may undergo depends on your exact case. Most procedures we provide at Everett & Hurite use laser surgery or cryotherapy to close the gap caused by the tear and surgically reattach the retina to its original position at the back wall of the eye. Your ophthalmologist will know the best treatment for you, but your job is to get there.

5. Annual Eye Exams are Your Best Strategy

Treating retinal detachment after it’s happened isn’t all your eye doctor can do for you. Retinal detachment usually can’t be prevented, so while knowing your risk and possible symptoms is important, your best tool is annual eye exams. Not only can your ophthalmologist spot retinal detachment early enough to prevent vision loss, but they can also detect other health issues like diabetes, thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, and even certain forms of cancer.

Trust Everett & Hurite for Expert Retinal Care

Retinal detachment is a serious condition that can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated. Being aware of the warning signs is important for early detection and intervention. By knowing the risk factors and seeking timely medical attention, individuals can increase their chances of preserving.

When it comes to retinal health, you need a trusted clinic with experienced specialists. At Everett & Hurite, we have a team of highly skilled ophthalmologists who specialize in retinal care. With years of expertise and access to advanced diagnostic tools and treatment options, our clinicians are dedicated to providing comprehensive and personalized care to each patient.

If you’re at risk of developing retinal detachment, or if you are suddenly experiencing any of the above symptoms, seek out help immediately. Visit Everett & Hurite’s experienced team of eye care professionals by scheduling an appointment online, or call (412) 288-0858 for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses protect against retinal tears?

While wearing corrective lenses can improve vision, they do not offer direct protection against retinal tears. However, properly prescribed eyeglasses or contact lenses can help manage underlying eye conditions that may contribute to the risk of tears.

Are there any activities or behaviors that increase the risk of retinal detachment?

While there are no specific activities that directly cause retinal detachment, engaging in high-impact sports or activities that increase the risk of head or eye trauma can potentially contribute to the development of retinal detachment.

Can retinal tears heal on their own?

In some cases, small retinal tears can heal on their own without intervention. However, it is crucial to have regular follow-up with your ophthalmologist to monitor the healing process and ensure that the tear does not progress to a more severe condition like retinal detachment.

Are there any non-surgical treatment options for retinal detachment?

In certain cases, non-surgical treatment options like pneumatic retinopexy or laser photocoagulation may be considered for small or limited retinal detachments. However, the appropriate treatment approach depends on the individual case and should be determined by an ophthalmologist.

How is retinal detachment surgery performed?

There are different surgical techniques for retinal detachment, including pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckle, and vitrectomy. The specific technique used depends on the individual case and the surgeon's recommendation.