What is a Retinal DetachmentThe retina is t
he part of the
eye that helps deliver images to the optic nerve for processing by the brain.
Images are first seen' by the front of the eye and then pass through the
eyeball to the retina, which in turn changes them into signals that can be
interpreted by the brain. The retina is made of a thin membrane made up of
several layers of tissue. Retinal detachment occurs when retinal tissue is
torn, develops a hole or a break, allowing fluid from the center of the eye to
seep through the layers of the membrane, or when the retina completely
separates from connective tissue securing it to the back of the eyeball.
Symptoms of Retinal DetachmentDetachment may happen suddenly, such as at the time of impact in an auto accident, or develop over hours, days or in some cases, even years. Typical symptoms of a detached retina are floaters (specks like dust particles that are continuously in the field of vision), blurry or double vision, flashes of light in the affected eye, a dark spot as if a solid object was obscuring the part of the view, and in the most serious cases, blindness. Pain is not a symptom of a detached retina. However, if pain is present, it does not rule out the possibility of a detachment, especially in the case of trauma.
Treatment OptionsThere are several treatments
available to address detached retinas. The amount and type of trauma or disease
that is the underlying cause of the problem will normally determine the
treatment. Laser surgery called photocoagulation is used to stop leaking fluids
or blood vessels and reattach the retina. Like photocoagulation, cryopexy (freezing
the cells) is another option used to stop leaking and facilitate reattachment.
These procedures are frequently used in conjunction with injecting either silicone oil or gas into the center of the eyeball after the vitreous fluid has been removed. Vitreous fluid is a gel-like substance that helps to shape the eyeball. The gas or silicone oil creates pressure on the retina and forces it back into place. An addition procedure is available to ophthalmologists called a sclera buckle. In this procedure, a small band is attached to the outside of the eyeball thereby pushing the retina into the back of the eye.
RecommendationsImpaired vision or blindness do not have to be the outcome in cases of retinal detachment. To minimize the damage to the eye, a prompt visit to an ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment is critical. Should you suspect that you are experiencing retinal detachment, contact your doctor immediately. For more information on this and other medical conditions affecting the eye, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology's website.
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