What is retinal detachment?
retina is a thin membrane of nerve tissue that lines
the back of the
eye . When part or all of the retina comes off (detaches from) the back of the eye, it is called retinal detachment.
The nerve cells in
the retina normally detect light entering the eye and send signals to the brain
about what the eye sees. But when the retina detaches, it no longer works
correctly. It can cause blurred and lost vision. Retinal detachment requires
immediate medical care. If done soon enough, surgery can save lost
- See a picture of a
detached retina .
What causes retinal detachment?
detachment often begins when the
vitreous gel, a thick gel that fills the center of the
eye, shrinks and separates from the retina. Called a posterior vitreous
detachment (PVD), this is a normal part of aging and can
be harmless. Sometimes, though, PVD can tear the retina. This happens where the
vitreous gel is strongly attached to the retina. As the vitreous gel shrinks,
it pulls so hard that the retina tears. The tear allows fluid to collect under
the retina and may cause the retina to detach.
Other things that can
lead to retinal detachment are an eye or head injury,
nearsightedness, eye disease, and conditions
most cases of retinal detachment cannot be prevented. But seeing your eye
doctor regularly, wearing protective helmets and eyeglasses, and treating
diabetes may help protect your vision.
What are the symptoms?
Many people have symptoms
of a posterior vitreous detachment, or PVD, before they have symptoms of
retinal detachment. When the vitreous gel shrinks and separates from the
retina, it causes
floaters and flashes. Floaters are spots, specks, and
lines that float through your field of vision. Flashes are brief sparkles or
lightning streaks that are most easily seen when your eyes are closed. They
often appear at the edges of your visual field. Floaters and flashes do not
always mean that you will have a retinal detachment. But they may be a warning
sign, so it is best to be checked by a doctor.
Sometimes a retinal
detachment happens without warning. The first sign of detachment may be a
shadow across part of your vision that does not go away. Or you may have new
and sudden loss of side (peripheral) vision that gets worse over time.
How is retinal detachment diagnosed?
retinal detachment, your doctor will examine your eyes and ask you questions
about any symptoms you have.
If you have symptoms of retinal
detachment, your doctor will use a lighted magnifying tool called an
ophthalmoscope to examine your retina. With this tool, your doctor can see
holes, tears, or retinal detachment.
How is it treated?