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:
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 a thin layer of tissue that covers the majority 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.
Retinal detachment is a very serious issue and one that can be hard for an individual to notice. It 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.
It’s Crucial to Know the Warning Signs
Retinal detachments are serious medical emergencies and should be treated as such. 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 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
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
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. While which treatment you may undergo depends on your exact case, Everett & Hurtie.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.
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 are 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.
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.