Retinal detachment occurs when one’s retina separates from the outer layers of their eye. It is a serious condition that, if not treated promptly, may lead to partial or complete loss of vision.
As one gets older, the vitreous, the clear gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye, tends to shrink slightly and take on a more watery consistency. Sometimes as the vitreous shrinks it exerts enough force on the retina to make it tear.
Retinal tears increase the chance of developing a retinal detachment. Fluid vitreous, passing through the tear, lifts the retina off the back of the eye like wallpaper peeling off a wall. Laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing) are often used to seal retinal tears and prevent detachment.
The appearance of flashing lights, floating objects, or a gray curtain moving across the field of vision are all indications of a retinal detachment.
A sudden onset of floaters, or retinal tears, may also be indicators of retinal detachment.
If any of these occur, please consult your eye doctor right away.
Retinal detachment can also be caused by other conditions such as severe inflammation of the eye, tumors, or as a complication from diabetes.
If you have any of the aforementioned risk factors, you can attempt to minimize the occurrence of retinal detachment by staying away from activities that have a a tendency of shock or pressure the head or eyes (eg. mixed martial arts). As a detective measure, you should ensure that you check your eyes regularly.
Retinal detachment is a very serious condition which will lead to blindness if not treated. Advanced technology has made modern rounds of retinal surgery safe and effective in the prevention of blindness.
If the retina is detached, it must be reattached before sealing the retinal tear. There are three ways to repair retinal detachments. Pneumatic retinopexy involves injecting a special gas bubble into the eye that pushes on the retina to seal the tear. The scleral buckle procedure requires the fluid to be drained from under the retina before a flexible piece of silicone is sewn on the outer eye wall to give support to the tear while it heals. Vitrectomy surgery removes the vitreous gel from the eye, replacing it with a gas bubble, which is slowly replaced by the body’s fluids.