Retinal detachment is a condition that many people have heard of but may not fully understand its severity or how it occurs. The retina is a thin layer of nerve cells responsible for creating vision and sending signals to the brain.
Therefore, it’s essential to know how to recognize the symptoms of retinal detachment, coupled with understanding the treatment options.
What is the Retina?
The retina is a significant component of the eye that lies in the back of the eyeball. It is responsible for the visual process and transmits the message to our brains.
It is a thin layer of nerve cells that helps produce a signal that is sent to the brain. Blood vessels in the retina can be seen through an eye exam or special photography.
How is the Retina Attached?
The healthy retina has different strengths of attachment. It is attached to the vitreous humor, which is a gelatin-like substance that fills most of the eyeball, and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a layer of cells that anchor the retina and prevent fluid leakage.
The strongest attachment to the vitreous humor is at the far periphery, called the ora serrata, while the weaker attachments are at the macula, the center of vision, and the optic nerve, which is the channel connecting to the brain.
How Does a Retina Become Detached?
A retinal detachment occurs when there is damage to the retina’s attachments, leading to a separation of layers in the back of the eye. It can happen when there are already breaks within the retina.
A rhegmatogenous retinal detachment occurs when there is a hole or tears in the retina that allows fluid to pass into the retina, lifting it from the RPE and causing the retina to detach.
Serous retinal detachment is caused by fluid buildup between the retina’s attachments, while a tractional retinal detachment occurs when new blood vessels grow into the vitreous humor, causing the retina to lift away.
What Causes a Retinal Detachment?
The common causes of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments are trauma to the eye, especially if there are thinning areas of the retina caused by lattice degeneration.
Serous retinal detachments can result from central serous chorioretinopathy, inflammation of the choroid, or a tumor within or behind the retina.
A tractional retinal detachment can be caused by neovascularization resulting from conditions such as diabetes, vein occlusions, or sickle cell anemia.
What are the Symptoms of Retinal Detachments?
There are varying symptoms of retinal detachments, depending on the size and severity of the detachment. Symptoms such as flashes of light, new onset floaters, or a curtain coming over your vision can indicate a retinal detachment.
What are the Treatment Options for Retinal Detachments?
Retinal detachment requires prompt medical attention to minimize the extent of vision loss.
Laser retinal surgery, vitrectomy, or a scleral buckle are the available treatments, depending on the detachment’s size and severity.
Unfortunately, not all vision can be fully recovered after a retinal detachment, regardless of the treatment options used.
Therefore, any symptoms of retinal detachment should be reported promptly to an ophthalmologist to avoid quick and lasting vision loss.
Importance of Immediate Care
Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for retinal detachments as it can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. Understanding the symptoms and available treatment options can reduce potential vision loss. Anyone experiencing new onset floaters, flashes of light, or a curtain coming over their vision should seek prompt medical attention to evaluate for a retinal detachment.