Retinal Detachment/Tears

Retinal Detachment is a separation of the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye (the retina) from its supporting layers.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors of Retinal Detachment

The retina is a transparent tissue in the back of the eye. It helps you see images using the cornea and the lens of your eye. Retinal Detachments are often associated with a tear or hole in the retina. This tear causes separation of the retina from the underlying tissues.

Retinal Detachment often occurs on its own without an underlying cause. However, it may also be caused by diabetes, trauma to the eye or an inflammatory disorder. It is commonly caused by a related condition called Posterior Vitreous Detachment.

During a Retinal Detachment, bleeding from small retinal blood vessels filled with vitreous fluid may cloud the interior of the eye. Central vision becomes severely affected if the macula, the part of the retina responsible for fine vision, becomes detached.

The risk factors are a result of previous eye surgery, nearsightedness, a family history of retinal detachment, uncontrolled diabetes, or trauma.

Retinal tear Symptoms

  • Bright flashes of light, especially in peripheral vision
  • Blurred Vision
  • Floaters in the eye
  • Shadow or blindness in part of the visual field of one eye

Testing for Retina Detachment

If you are experiencing Retinal Detachment symptoms tests to check the retina and pupil response and your ability to see colors properly will be conducted. Time is crucial. Seek medical attention within the first 24 hours of symptoms.

Test may include:

  • Electroretinogram (a record of the electrical currents in the retina produced by visual stimuli)
  • Intraocular pressure determination
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Refraction test
  • Fluorescein angiography

Test to determine your ability to see colors properly (color defectiveness):

  • Visual acuity
  • Slit–lamp examination
  • Ultrasound of the eye

Treatment for Retinal Detachment

Most patients with a Retinal Detachment will require surgery, either immediately or after a short period. (However, surgery may not be needed if you do not have symptoms or have had the detachment for a while.)

Types of Retinal surgery include:

  • Cryopexy (intense cold applied to the area with an ice probe) to help a scar form, which holds the retina to the underlying layer
  • Laser surgery to seal the tears or holes in the retina
  • Pneumatic Retinopexy (placing a gas bubble in the eye) to help the retina float back into place
  • Laser surgery is performed after Pneumatic Retinopexy to fix permanently it in place. This procedure is usually performed in a doctor’s office.

More extensive retinal detachments may require surgery in an operating room. Such procedures include:

  • Scleral buckle to indent the wall of the eye
  • Vitrectomy to remove gel or scar tissue pulling on the retina

Retinal Detachment expectations (prognosis)

The course of treatment depends on the location and extent of the detachment and early treatment. If the macula has not detached, the results of treatment can be excellent. Most retinal detachments can be repaired, but not all of them. The success of reattachment depends on many factors including how quickly you seek medical care.

Retinal Detachment complications

An unsuccessful reattachment of the retina will result in loss of vision.

Getting medical care for Retinal Detachment

A retinal detachment is an urgent problem that requires medical attention within 24 hours of the first symptoms.

Call the Shah Eye Center immediately and report your symptoms or go to emergency room. Get someone to drive you to the Shah Eye Center or emergency room. Time can be crucial to the success of reattachment of the retina.