Retinal detachment refers to an eye condition in which the retina is separated from the surrounding tissue. As a result, the retina cannot function properly, leading to loss of vision if not treated early.

What are the main symptoms?

Patients with retinal detachment don’t suffer pain or experience any special symptoms until the disease becomesserious. However, there are still indicators that could point to retinal detachment. The most common ones are,

  • Partial vision loss. Patients say it feels like a curtain has been pulled across their field of vision.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Sudden flashes of light. They often appear when patients look to the side.
  • Areas of darkness.
  • Many floaters that appear out of nowhere, and look like small bits of debris or strings floating right before your eyes.

Retinal tears are not the same as detachment but they lead to retinal detachment and are usually the first stage. If fluids inside the eyeball pass through a retinal tear, it can cause a separation of the retina from the tissue around it, which results in retinal detachment. Retinal tears are easily diagnosed. The disease may come without warning, so retinal tear symptoms of floaters and flashes can help diagnose the disease earlier. If treated before full detachment, a simple laser procedure prevents the need for serious surgeries.

Who is at greatestrisk for retinal detachment?

There are several groups of people that are prone to this disease.

  • Those who have had cataract surgery.
  • Those who are nearsighted.
  • Those withfamily members who have suffered retinal detachment.

If you’re unsure about the risk of detachment, talk to your eye doctor and havean eye exam.

How is retinal detachment diagnosed?

Your eye doctor will advise you to have an exam that includes dilating your eyes. This allows the doctor to visualize if there isretinal detachment. Doctors may also test the ability of the retina to send impulses to the brain.

Some doctors also offer an ultrasound of the eye. This is a simple and painless test that uses sound waves tocreate an image of the eye. Early diagnosis is one of the keys to prevent vision loss from retinal detachment.

What are the treatments for retinal detachment?

Quite often, surgery is required to repair the retina. However, for minor detachments of the retina, simple procedures can be done. For example, if you have a hole in your retina but it’s still attached, your eye doctor may use photocoagulation. This is a procedure using alaser to burn around the tear site, affixing the retina to the back of your eye.

Another popular option is intense cold, or cryopexy. You eye doctor applies a freezing probe to the tear site, which holds the retina in place. Once it is in place, the doctor uses a laser to seal holes.

There are no ways to prevent retinal detachment caused by reasons other than eye injury. But the condition can result from injuries when using tools or playing sports. You can avoid damaging your retinas by wearing protective eyewear. For people with diabetes, however, see your eye doctor regularly.