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Understanding and Preventing Retinal Detachment

Monday, November 3, 2014 @ 03:11 AM
Author: Amit Mathur


Retinal detachment is by far one of the most severe eye conditions that you can experience, and one where you must act quickly to preserve what’s left of your vision. It’s important to understand what retinal detachment is, what the symptoms are, what you’d experience if your retina did detach, and how to quickly get help.

What Is Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment, as the name suggests, occurs when your eye’s retina somehow detaches or separates from its blood vessels. The retina itself is just tissue and is positioned far back on the eye. When your retina detaches from the blood vessels, it no longer gets the oxygen required for your eyes. This leads to vision loss.

What Causes Retinal Detachment?

You should also beware of the various causes of this dangerous condition. If you already have an eye disorder, particularly one in which the eye has become inflamed, your chances of a retinal detachment do increase. If you have an eye injury, it’s somewhat likely that the retina could detach. More advanced stages of diabetes could also cause problems with your blood vessels, leading to pressure that causes the retina to detach. Lastly, your eyes’ vitreous can become smaller. This is a smooth, jelly-like portion of your eyes that can influence the retina. You’re mostly at risk of vitreous problems as you begin to age.

What Are the Symptoms of Retinal Detachment?

Perhaps the scariest part of retinal detachment is that you may not feel anything at all if your retina does indeed separate. The process surprisingly does not hurt, so you may not notice that your retina has separated until it begins to negatively affect your vision. Look for the sudden onset of vision disturbances. For example, you will probably see bright light suddenly in what’s been called a flashing motion. It will look like lightning claps in front of your vision.

You may also notice floaters where none have ever existed before. If you already have floaters, these may be worse. Instead of just looking like tiny dots, they may also be longer and string-like. These will occur suddenly as well. The most obvious symptom is a darkening of your field of vision, often described like a shadow of darkness. This is indicative of the severity of retinal detachment and will continue to get worse if you don’t get immediate help.

What Do You Do If You Believe Your Retina Tore or Detached?

If you believe that you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms of retinal detachment, it’s crucial that you don’t wait to get help. As mentioned, retinal detachments are emergency situations, and any vision loss that occurs when suffering from one often cannot be restored. Therefore, calling for and receiving medical attention is the best way to preserve your vision.

Once you visit with your eye doctor, they will likely perform a series of tests to determine whether or not you really do have a retinal detachment. An ultrasonography displays sounds on a screen. Your eye doctor will use sound waves to reach your retina, reflecting the waves off of it and displaying the results on the screen. Alternately, your eye doctor may suggest an ophthalmoscope test, which uses a type of device with 3-D capability that easily picks up on a retinal detachment. Both tests will probably be used in conjunction with one another to make a full and proper diagnosis.

How Is Retinal Detachment Typically Treated?

Once your eye doctor determines that you have a retinal detachment, there are many ways to treat the condition. These surgical treatment methods vary depending on the severity of the detachment. If your retina only tore but did not fully detach, then cryopexy may be suggested. This procedure requires that a surgeon accesses your retinal tear and freezes it with a probe. This secures the retina in place. Photocoagulation uses lasers to secure the retina.

If your damage has progressed to a retinal detachment, surgery is still the answer. However, the procedures are often more intensive. Cryopexy and photocoagulation may also still be recommended. Retinal detachments can be treated with a scleral buckling, in which the surgeon adheres a piece of sponge or rubber to your eye’s sclera to reduce retinal pressure. A pneumatic retinopexy treats the eye’s vitreous through inserting gas or air bubbles into it to heal the retinal detachment. A vitrectomy will leak out any excess fluid or vitreous to reduce pressure on the retina.

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