Retinal detachment is a serious condition that can cost a person’s vision. This is a phenomenon characterized by the separation of the retina from its underlying supportive tissue and can no longer function properly. Unless the retina is reattached soon, permanent blindness may result.
Retinal Detachment Symptoms
If you suddenly experience floaters, light flashes, or spots in your field of vision, along with a blurry vision, these may be warning signs of a detached retina. Another sign could be seeing a curtain-like shadow descending across your field of vision. These signs can happen slowly as the retina gradually pulls away from the supportive tissue or they may occur abruptly if the retina detaches immediately.
Retinal Detachment Causes
About 50 percent of patients with a retinal tear will have a subsequent detachment. An eye or face injury can cause retinal detachment as well as very highly progressed nearsightedness. Extremely myopic people have more extended eyeballs with thinner retinas which are more vulnerable to detaching.
In rare cases, a detached retina may happen after LASIK surgery in extremely nearsighted people. Tumors, eye diseases, cataract surgery, systemic diseases such as sickle cell disease and diabetes may also cause retinal detachments.
Fluid movement in the eye or new blood vessels growing under the retina in diabetic retinopathy can push the retina away from its supportive tissue as well.
Retinal Detachment Treatment
Surgery is necessary for repairing a detached retina. Retinal detachment is usually painless although causing possible permanent loss of vision. Immediate treatment increases the chances of regaining lost vision.
Surgical options to treat retinal detachment include:
Vitrectomy. In this surgery, the clear jelly-like fluid is extracted from the posterior chamber of the eye (vitreous body) and substituted with clear silicone oil to shift the detached portion of the retina back onto the retinal pigment epithelium.
Pneumatic retinopexy. In this procedure, the surgeon introduces a small bubble of gas through injection into the posterior eye chamber to push the detached portion of the retina back into place.
Scleral buckling surgery. This is the most common procedure to treat retinal detachment. It involves attaching a small silicone or plastic band to the sclera or the outside of the eye which will be invisible after the surgery. This band compresses or buckles the eye inward to reduce the pulling of the retina thereby allowing reattachment of the retina to the interior wall of the eye.
Other treatments for retinal detachment caused by a tear in the retina include cryopexy (freezing probe) and photocoagulation (laser) procedures. Surgical reattachment of the retina does not always guarantee success and normal vision.
The likelihood of a successful surgery depends on the cause, location, and extent of the retinal detachment as well as other factors. Usually, a patient regains normal vision if the detachment is confined to the peripheral retina and the macula is not affected.