The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages to the brain for interpretation. Retinal detachment is an emergency condition caused when the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position. In these cases, medical care should be sought to prevent permanent vision loss in the affected eye.
The following symptoms may be a sign of a retinal detachment:
- The sudden appearance of floaters
- The sudden appearance of flashes or streaks of light
- A curtain-like shadow in your vision
- Vision that is blurred
- Reduced side (peripheral) vision
Left untreated it can cause permanent vision loss. It is essential to seek emergency care from an ophthalmologist in this situation.
WHAT CAUSES RETINAL DETACHMENT?
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina becomes detached from the cell layer that nourishes it, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). There are different types of retinal detachment caused by different issues. These include::
- Rhegmatogenous –this type of retinal detachment is the most common. It is caused by a retinal tear that allows for fluid to separate the retina from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).
- Tractional – this type of retinal detachment is caused by a separation of the retina and RPE due to scar tissue. This type is common amongst those with poorly managed diabetes.
- Exudative – this type is caused by a build-up of fluid underneath the retina due to retinal diseases such as inflammatory disorders, age-related macular degeneration and injury/trauma to the eye. This type usually involves no retinal tear.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Your ophthalmologist will be able to diagnose retinal holes, tears and even retinal detachment with an examination of the back of your eye using special lenses and a bright light. Ultrasound imaging may also be used if bleeding has occurred that obstructs the view of the retina. If retinal detachment has occurred, emergency surgery will be advised.
HOW IS RETINAL DETACHMENT TREATED?
Retinal detachment can only be repaired with eye surgery. The main types of retina surgery performed for retinal detachment include pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckle and pars plana vitrectomy.