What is retinal detachment?
Your retina is a layer of light-sensitive tissue in the back of your eye. It contains millions of photoreceptors that collect light that enters your eyes, turns the images into electrical impulses, then sends them to the brain, which decodes the signals to produce vision.
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the underlying retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The RPE is a layer of supportive tissue that delivers nutrients to the retina and secretes substances that maintain the retina’s structure.
The retina can’t continue to function after it detaches from the RPE. As a result, retinal detachment causes blindness if you don’t receive prompt treatment.
What causes retinal detachment?
A condition called posterior vitreous detachment can cause retinal detachment. The vitreous is the gel-like fluid inside your eye that’s connected to the retina by very fine fibers.
As you age, the vitreous thins out and shrinks, pulling it away from the retina. Usually, the connecting fibers break, but if they don’t, they can pull the retina away from its underlying tissues.
Advanced diabetic retinopathy may cause abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina. These vessels leak blood and fluid, which builds up under the retina and can cause enough pressure to cause a retinal detachment.
A blow or injury to your face or head could be strong enough to tear the retina. Additionally, people with high levels of nearsightedness are at risk for retinal detachment.
What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?
Retinal detachment usually doesn’t cause pain, so you won’t have that symptom to alert you to the problem. You’ll develop symptoms such as:
- Sudden appearance of many floaters
- Flashes of light in one or both eyes
- Sudden blurry vision
- Gradual loss of side vision
- Curtain-like shadow over your visual field
You should contact THIRDCOAST RETINA if you experience any of these symptoms.
How is retinal detachment treated?
Retinal tears must be treated by reattaching the retina back to the underlying RPE. Laser surgery typically accomplishes that goal.
Dr. Warren and the team at THIRDCOAST RETINA can use a laser to make controlled burns around the retinal tear, which seals the retina to the underlying tissue. It also stops fluid from traveling under the retina, helping to prevent future detachment.
Other treatment methods include:
- Vitrectomy: Vitreous is removed and replaced with another substance to keep the retina in place
- Freezing (cryopexy): Freezes the retina to the underlying tissue
- Scleral buckle: Flexible band counteracts pressure against the retina; allows the retina to reattach
To learn more about the treatments available for retinal detachment, call THIRDCOAST RETINA, or book an appointment online today.