The retina is a very important part of the structure of our eye. This thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the inside of the eye is located near the optic nerve. Its purpose is to receive the light that the lens has focused on it and convert it into neural signals which are then sent to the brain, which determines what we can see. If the retina is any way compromised, it can have a significant effect on your vision. One of the problems that can occur that affects the retina, is a condition called retinal detachment.
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina begins to pull away from the blood vessels that supply it with oxygen. There are three types of retinal detachment. These are:
Traditional retinal detachment. This is where injury, inflammation or other issues cause the retina to detach.
Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment. This is when there is a tear or hole in the retina that enables liquid to pass into a space that pulls the retina away from the blood vessels.
Secondary retinal detachment. There is no break or tear in the retina, but instead, inflammation, injury or abnormalities with the blood vessels cause fluid to build up under the retina and detach it.
Exactly what causes retinal detachment can vary. In most instances, it is triggered by age-related changes to the jelly inside your eye. However, there are also some risk factors that make someone more likely to experience an episode of retinal detachment including a family history of the condition, having undergone eye surgery or having had an eye injury, or being diagnosed with myopia (near-sightedness).
Retinal detachment is a serious condition and if it isn’t treated very quickly, it can result in partial or total vision loss.
There are primarily four main indicators that suggest someone could be suffering from retinal detachment. These are:
Flashing lights in your vision. These are more likely to occur when you are looking around.
Floaters in your vision. These are bits of debris in the eye that follow our field of vision as our eyes turn.
Sudden blurred vision.
Seeing dark shadows that first appear in the peripheral vision, but that spread towards the center.
Straight lines start to appear slightly curved and bent.
Contrary to what many people believe, retinal detachment doesn’t usually cause any pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you make an appointment to see our expert eye care team as soon as possible so that your eyes can be assessed.
The good news is that retinal detachment can be treated, but it must be done promptly if the patient’s vision is to be saved. Treatment involves surgery to reattach the retina to the blood vessels that supply it. However, exactly what needs to be done may vary depending on the type of retinal detachment that you have experienced. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove and replace the vitreous jelly inside the eye, or to attach a small band around your eye to push the wall of your eye and the retina back together. This process, called scleral buckling, is very common. Sometimes cryotherapy or laser therapy will be used to seal tears that may have occurred. Our expert eye doctors will explain precisely what you can expect to happen in your retinal detachment treatment.
Most retinal detachment surgeries are carried out under local anesthetic, meaning that you can go home again the same day. However, you will need to allow yourself some time to recover since your vision may be blurred for up to six weeks following your surgery. You may be unable to drive or take part in certain activities during your recovery. It is essential that you follow all postoperative instructions that you are given as these will contribute towards the success of your retinal detachment surgery.
If you are concerned about retinal detachment, don’t delay in seeking professional help. Please contact either of Grove Eye Care office locations in Richmond or Midlothian, VA today to schedule an assessment with one of our experienced and knowledgeable eye doctors.