is the retina?
The retina is a nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and sends images to the brain.
What is a retinal detachment ?
The retina is attached to the inner back surface of the eye. Detachment is the pulling away of the retina from its normal position. The separation of the retina from the wall of the eye impairs its normal functioning, resulting in blurred vision.
What causes retinal detachment ?
The vitreous is a clear gel that fills most of the space in the eye. It is located in front of the retina. With age, the vitreous pulls away from its attachments to the retina, usually without causing problems. Sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina. Fluid may then pass through the retinal tear and lift the retina off the wall of the eye.
Risk factors for retinal detachment:
Myopia or near-sightedness
Injury to the eye
Previous retinal detachment in the other eye
Family history of retinal detachment
Areas of thin/weak retina
Complicated cataract surgery
Warning symptoms of retinal detachment:
Flashes of light
New, or increase in, floaters [black dots in your vision]
A gray curtain noticed in the field of vision
How is retinal detachment diagnosed ?
The retina is examined with an instrument called the indirect ophthalmoscope after dilating the pupil. Holes and tears are carefully looked for in the periphery of the retina.
Retinal tears without detachment - Laser photocoagulation or cryotherapy is performed around the tear to seal the retina to the back wall of the eye.
Retinal tears with retinal detachment - Requires surgery as soon as possible to put the retina back in its proper position. The longer the retina stays detached, the less the visual improvement after surgery. Scleral buckle surgery - A flexible silicone band is placed around the eye to counter the force pulling on the retina after removing the fluid under the detached retina.
Vitrectomy - The vitreous gel pulling the retina is removed from the eye and replaced with a special gas or silicone oil.
The more severe the retinal detachment and the longer its duration, the less is the visual improvement after surgery. For this reason it is very important to see an ophthalmologist at the first sign of any trouble. If the condition is left untreated it may result in permanent loss of vision.