Retinal Detachment

A retinal detachment (RD) is a serious condition where the retina has separated from other layers of the eye. Common causes include retinal holes or tears, trauma, traction, or high myopia. As vitreous fluid pools under the retina, that area loses it ability to provide vision. A retinal detachment requires urgent treatment, and if left untreated, may lead to severe vision loss or blindness.

Image by Haseeb Jamil

A detached retina is when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye. The retina does not work when it is detached, making vision blurry. A detached retina is a serious problem. An ophthalmologist needs to check it out right away, or you could lose sight in that eye.

 

The retina is composed of nerve tissue at the back of the eye that transmits light signals to your brain. The vitreous body is the fluid that fills the middle of the eye. As people age, the vitreous body often separates from the retina causing a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).  As the vitreous separates from the retina, there is a possibility that the retina will develop a tear or detachment. A retinal detachment (RD) is a serious condition where the retina has separated from other layers of the eye. Common causes include retinal holes or tears, trauma, traction, or high myopia. As vitreous fluid pools under the retina, that area loses it ability to provide vision. A retinal detachment requires urgent treatment, and if left untreated, may lead to severe vision loss or blindness.

The retina is composed of nerve tissue at the back of the eye that transmits light signals to your brain. The vitreous body is the fluid that fills the middle of the eye. As people age, the vitreous body often separates from the retina causing a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).  As the vitreous separates from the retina, there is a possibility that the retina will develop a tear or detachment.

Causes 

As we get older, the vitreous in our eye starts to shrink and get thinner. As the eye moves, the vitreous moves around on the retina without causing problems. But sometimes the vitreous may stick to the retina and pull hard enough to tear it. When that happens, fluid can pass through the tear and lift (detach) the retina.

The retina is composed of nerve tissue at the back of the eye that transmits light signals to your brain. The vitreous body is the fluid that fills the middle of the eye. As people age, the vitreous body often separates from the retina causing a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).  As the vitreous separates from the retina, there is a possibility that the retina will develop a tear or detachment.

Symptoms

  • Seeing flashes of light all of a sudden. Some people say this is like seeing stars after being hit in the eye.

  • Noticing many new floaters at once. These can look like specks, lines or cobwebs in your field of vision.

  • A shadow appearing in your peripheral (side) vision.

  • A gray curtain covering part of your field of vision.

Retina Detachment Simulator

Retinal Detachment
Vision Simulator

Diagnosis and Testing

A dilated examination is necessary to diagnose any signs of posterior vitreous detachment, retinal holes and tears, and retinal detachments. Fundus photography and optical coherence tomography (OCT) may be used to document the size, location, and severity of the detachment. Additional testing helps an ophthalmologist diagnose and monitor these conditions.

Treatment

The size, location, duration, and cause of the retinal detachment will determine treatment. Retinal detachments most often require surgical intervention to repair. Surgical repairs includes lasers, gas bubbles with freezing therapy in the office, or a vitrectomy or scleral buckel at a surgery center. Depending on the location of the retinal detachment, face-down positioning may be necessary for several days following surgery. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and benefits that will be discussed with your physician prior to surgery.

Pneumatic Retinopexy

Your ophthalmologist puts a gas bubble inside your eye. This pushes the retina into place so it can heal properly. Afterwards, you will need to keep your head in a very specific position as your doctor recommends for a few days. This keeps the bubble in the right place. As your eye heals, your body makes fluid that fills the eye. Over time, this fluid replaces the gas bubble.

Vitrectomy

Your ophthalmologist removes the vitreous pulling on the retina. The vitreous will be replaced with an air, gas, or oil bubble. The bubble pushes the retina into place so it can heal properly. If an oil bubble is used, your ophthalmologist will remove it a few months later.

Scleral Buckle

A band of rubber or soft plastic is sewn to the outside of your eyeball. It gently presses the eye inward. This helps the detached retina heal against the eye wall. You will not see the scleral buckle on the eye. It is usually left on the eye permanently.