Retinal detachment is an uncommon, but serious eye condition that occurs when the retina separates from the back of the eye. This condition is very serious and can result in a permanent loss of vision if not quickly diagnosed and treated by an ophthalmologist.
Usually, retinal detachment occurs as the result of a retinal tear. These tears occur when the vitreous gel liquefies and begins to separate from the back of the eye – a condition that is normal after age 40. But when the retinal tissue is weak, a tear can occur causing the newly liquefied gel to leak and collect under the retina.
Symptoms of Retinal Detachment
Unfortunately, there is no pain or discomfort to signify the detachment of the retina. Because the condition is not uncomfortable, it often goes undiagnosed and untreated until it is too late to preserve vision. However, there are some tell-tale signs that retinal detachment is occurring, including the sudden appearance of floaters or flashes of light. A darkening or “graying” of the peripheral vision is also an indicator of a detached retina.
Although retinal detachment can occur to anyone, it is more common among individuals with certain risk factors. They include:
- Being over age 40
- Having a family history of retain detachment
- A previous eye trauma, injury, or surgery
- The presence of an eye disease
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Previous retinal detachment
Anyone experiencing the symptoms of retinal detachment should seek emergency help from an ophthalmologist. Early identification and treatment can prevent vision loss or preserve remaining vision.
Retinal detachment found early enough can be surgically treated. Laser surgery and cryopexy (freezing) are both methods of creating scarring that helps close retinal tears and secure the retina to the surrounding tissue and eye wall. In some cases, it may also be necessary to use simultaneous procedures, such as draining and replacing the vitreous fluid within the eye or injecting gas into the eye to help seal retinal tears and encourage the absorption of fluid that has collected beneath the retina.