The retina receives images and sends them to your brain for processing. When the retina detaches from the back of the eye, you'll experience loss of vision. The degree of vision loss depends on whether the detachment is complete or partial, but complete retinal detachment that's not treated quickly can cause permanent vision loss. Here's an overview of the causes, symptoms and treatment options for retinal detachment:
A clear cause can't always be identified, but retinal detachment can occur as a result of the aging process. Hormonal changes that occur as you age can cause the vitreous gel in your eye to begin to liquefy. As this happens, the cortex comes under strain and begins contracting, and this can lead to the cortex pulling the retina until it detaches. If you have type 2 diabetes, you can experience retinal detachment due to high blood glucose levels damaging the blood vessels in your retina. Other causes include trauma to the eye and detachment due to complications of eye surgery, including cataract removal.
Retinal detachment isn't painful, but there are early symptoms of this serious condition. Common symptoms include the following:
- Blurred vision
- Flashes and floaters in your peripheral vision
- Dark spots in your field of vision
- A marked change in your ability to see distant objects
Retinal detachment can be diagnosed by your optometrist or ophthalmologist by carrying out a standard eye test, checking the pressure within your eye by observing how the eye reacts to puffs of air and carrying out diagnostic imaging to look closely at the retina. Surgery is required to repair the retina and prevent further detachment. The specific procedure you'll undergo will be dependent on the position and severity of detachment. Here's an overview of three common surgical procedures for retinal detachment:
- Photocoagulation - A laser is used to burn the tissue at the site of the tear, and as the tissue scars, it binds to the retina and holds it in place.
- Cryopexy - This option is similar to photocoagulation, but a freezing probe is used instead of a laser.
- Retinopexy - Gas is used to create a bubble in your eye that your doctor then uses to manipulate the retina back into place. A laser is then used to seal the torn tissue and hold the retina in the correct position.
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms of retinal detachment, or if you have any sudden change in your vision, contact your optometrist immediately.