- The retina is the light-sensitive layer of cells analogous to a movie screen that covers the back of the eye. Light rays enter the eye and hit the cells of the retina, which then transfer the information via the optic nerve to the vision center of the brain -- where the information is analyzed and the visualized picture is understood (i.e., perceived).
- Segments or a part of the retina can separate, pull-off, detach, or tear from the back of the eye and distort the image that is perceived by the brain. If, for example, the retinal layer at the center of the eye is pulled off, central vision may be lost and one may see a dark spot in the middle of everything. Pieces may break off and float in the gel-like fluid (vitreous) inside the back portion of the eye, and one may notice these objects floating by (like the wings of a fly) while looking at things.
- Flashing lights
- Curtain (the appearance of a
curtain across your vision)
- Cobweb effect in the field of vision
- Blurred Vision
- Darkness in the center of vision
- Partial or complete blindness
- Holes and tears in the retina -- shrinkage of the vitreous fluid or body over years pulls on the underlying retina and small tears or holes appear which can then detach.
- Secondary type of conditions can lead to Retinal Detachment.
- Often are not associated with tears or holes
- Tumors or abnormal growths of the eye
- Sudden trauma to the eye
- Inflammatory (irritation, swelling, damage) diseases such as posterior scleritis
- Diabetic eye disease (diabetes)
- Malignant Hypertension -- uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
- An ophthalmologist (eye doctor) may be consulted.
- History of symptoms, medications, illnesses, trauma, family history, surgeries, birth history, habits, and allergies
- Medical exam:
- Using an eye chart, vision is tested.
- Using an ophthalmoscope (provides light and magnification), the doctor will be able to look inside the eye and see the Detached Retina.
- If there are Cataracts (white discoloration of the lens) then Ultrasound (using sound) can show the RD.
- Slit lamp examination and
fluorescein dye techniques can also help in diagnosing RD
and its cause.
- Testing of visual fields (measuring the entire image
that both eyes together, can see -- the right half of the image, the left half, and the overlapped area)
- Age -- older the person, the higher the risk of RD
- Males < females
- Near sightedness (Myopia)
- Premature babies
- RD in the other eye
- Sickle cell disease
- Tumors of the eye
- Immediate ophthalmology consultation is recommended.
- Positioning the patient's head so that gravity will keep the detached layer closer to the back of the eye may help until RD is treated.
- Prevent and treat the underlying disease (e.g. diabetes)
- Tears that are small and associated with minimal symptoms may be only observed.
- For small tears, laser photocoagulation and cryopexy (freezing) may be helpful.
- For larger tears, surgical repair of the retina and reattachment is possible in 90% of the cases.
If you experience sudden changes in vision (e.g., blindness, curtain effect), call 911. If you have a disease such as diabetes, get regular eye checkups.
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