Retinal detachment is a painless site threatening eye problem. A detached retina is when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye. The retina does not work when it is detached, making vision blurry. As we get older, the vitreous gel in our eyes starts to shrink and get thinner. As the eye moves, the vitreous moves around on the retina without causing problems. But sometimes the vitreous may stick to the retina and pull hard enough to tear it. When that happens, fluid can pass through the tear and lift or detach the retina.
Who is at Risk of a Detached Retina?
Patients who are at greater risk for detached retina are those who:
- Are nearsighted and need glasses to see far away
- Have had eye surgery such as cataract surgery
- Have had a serious eye injury
- Have had a retinal tear or detachment in the other eye
- Have family members who had retinal detachment
- Have weakened areas in their retina from thinning or degeneration
What are Symptoms or Warning Signs of a Detached Retina?
Retinal detachment causes a number of symptoms and warning signs that occur often before the actual detachment happens. The key is to preserving vision is to recognize these warning signs and symptoms and scheduling quick diagnosis and treatment. Warning signs and symptoms of retinal detachment may include:
- Flashes of light that may occur in your field of vision toward the outermost periphery.
- A sudden increase in the number of floaters in your vision and possibly even a ring of floaters or “hairs” in your vision-sometimes this is accompanied by “specks” or a “cobweb”.
- A sense of a “shadow” in your peripheral vision that may progress toward the center of your vision.
- A sensation of a “curtain” or a “veil” being drawn over your vision.
- Straight lines, such as the edge of a door or walls, appear to be curved or appear as a “bubble”.
- In extreme cases of retinal detachment you may experience a loss of central vision.
Types of Retinal Detachment
There are three main types of retinal detachment:
Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment is the most common type that occurs as a result of a break-usually a tear or hole-in the retina that permits fluid to pass into the space underneath the retina. Tears or holes in the retina may actually occur without causing any symptoms to occur. Therefore, it is important that you have routine eye examinations, especially if you are nearsighted or myopic, or if you play contact sports and might be subjected to eye trauma. If you are nearsighted or myopic, you may be more prone to peripheral retinal degenerations, such as lattice degeneration, which may increase your risk of retinal detachment making regular eye examinations an even more important part of your routine health care. Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment is the most common type of retinal detachment.
Exudative Retinal Detachment may occur due to inflammation, injury or a Retinal Vascular Disease that causes fluid accumulation underneath the retina without the presence of a retinal hole or retinal tear.
Tractional Retinal Detachment may occur when fibrous or fibrovascular scar tissue has been formed on the retina as a result of an injury, inflammatory disease or the presence of neovascularization, such as in Diabetic Retinopathy. The scar tissue actually pulls the Retina free from the underlying pigment layer it is normally attached to, causing a Retinal Detachment.