The retina of the eye is a relatively well-known part of the human body, and is an extremely important one. The retina is a light-sensitive membrane located at the back of the eye. It transforms the light energy that’s perceived by our eyes every day into electrical signals, which can then be sent to the brain and transformed into a visual picture. Without a healthy retina, it would be impossible for us to see anything. Unfortunately, the retina is not immune to health problems. One of the worst issues that can develop is a retinal detachment, which can lead to permanent loss of vision.
Unlike many ophthalmic conditions, over 90% of cases with retinal detachments can be treated successfully, provided the patient gets prompt medical attention from an ophthalmologist or a retinal surgeon. Our team of expert ophthalmologists and retinal surgeons at Everett & Hurite specialize in surgical procedures that repair retinal conditions. If you are living in the tri-state area and are experiencing vision-related problems, please don’t hesitate to call or schedule an appointment online immediately.
Retinal detachment refers to a health issue where the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position inside the eye, which essentially leads to the tearing away of the retina from its underlying tissues. This movement often separates the retina from the supportive tissues that keep the retina healthy and functional. Once separated from these tissues, the retina can no longer function normally, and permanent blindness becomes an imminent possibility. Because of this, retinal detachment are considered to be a medical emergency and it requires immediate treatment to prevent permanent vision loss.
Patients suffering from a retinal detachment will commonly begin to see one or more of the following:
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit with an eye doctor immediately. Retinal detachments are a painless condition - these symptoms will often be the only sign that a retinal detachment is occurring.
Retinal detachments are most likely to occur in individuals who are over the age of 40; however, they can occur at any age and affect both men and women. Other factors that can increase the risk of a retinal detachment are:
Retinal detachment can be classified into three main types. In traction retinal detachment, the scar tissue develops on the retina’s surface and it pulls the retina away from the underlying layer. This does not usually result in the tearing of the retina. In exudative retinal detachment, certain conditions of the eye like macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy could trigger the growth of abnormal blood vessels on or around the retina. These vessels are very feeble and often leak blood or fluid under the retina, which builds up over time and forces it to detach. In the case of rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, when your retina tears or develops a hole due to various causes, a clear, gel-like fluid in the middle of your eye might flow through the tear and deposit under your retina. As this builds up, it forces the retina away from the underlying layer.
Posterior vitreous detachment is characterized by the filling up of vitreous gel into the space between the eye’s lens and retina. This creates an incredibly complicated web of millions of fine fibers and retinal nerves weaving through the gel filling the cavity. As you get older, the vitreous gel slowly shrinks, which results in the pulling off of the fibers connected to the retina. Usually, the fibers snap and break, and the vitreous separates from the retina. However In some cases, this pulling of the retinal fibers cause a retinal tear that leads to detachment.
Both retinal tears and retinal detachments have to be surgically repaired and the type of procedure would entirely depends on the condition and the physiology of your eyes. Most procedures 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.
Annual eye exams are the best line of defense against a retinal detachment. During these exams, our eye doctor can examine the retina for any signs of distress, and can prescribe treatment if necessary. Treating any developing issues can sometimes help to prevent a detachment from occurring in the future. To help further protect their eyes, patients should also wear proper eye protection during sports or at work (if necessary) to protect their eyes from potential traumatic events or accidents, as these events always raise the risk of developing a retinal detachment.
A detached retina is a serious medical condition and it requires immediate attention. If you suddenly experience an increase in floaters or you see flashing lights or darkening of your peripheral vision, don’t hesitate to call or schedule an appointment online immediately with one of our retinal specialists, in any of our 10 offices near you.