Retinal detachment is a very serious eye condition that happens when the retina separates from the tissue around it. Since the retina can't work properly under these conditions, you could permanently lose vision if the detached retina isn't repaired promptly.
Each war leaves its own brand of trauma on soldiers.
Amputation was the most common surgery during the American Civil War. World War I brought mustard gas and an epidemic of scarred lungs.
For veterans returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan, vision problems caused by traumatic brain injury are a growing concern. These veterans have better body armor than soldiers in the past, but they are more likely to be severely shaken by a blast from a homemade explosive device.
About 16% of soldiers...
You're more likely to get a detached retina if you:
Are severely nearsighted
Have had an eye injury or cataract surgery
Have a family history of retinal detachment
Retinal tears -- although different than retinal detachment -- are often the first stage leading to a retinal detachment. If fluid from within the eye passes through a retinal tear, that can separate the retina from its underlying tissue -- and that's retinal detachment. Retinal detachment may happen with no warning, but often there are retinal tear “warning” symptoms of flashes and floaters. If treated during the stage of retinal tear and before full detachment, a simple office laser procedure prevents the need for a more serious retinal detachment operation.
If you are unsure about your risk of retinal detachment, talk to your eye doctor.
What Are the Symptoms of a Detached Retina?
A detached retina doesn't hurt, so look for these symptoms:
Flashes of light
Seeing "floaters" (small flecks or threads)
Darkening of your peripheral (side) vision
If you notice any of those symptoms, contact your eye doctor immediately.
How Is a Detached Retina Diagnosed?
Your eye doctor would give you an eye exam, which would include dilating your eyes. That lets them see if your retina is detached.
Early diagnosis is key to preventing vision loss from a detached retina.