Definition of Retinal Detachment

Separation of the retina from the choroid, the layer of the eye’s structure that nourishes and attaches the retina. Retinal detachment may occur as a result of trauma to the eye, age-related macular degeneration (armd)vitreous detachmentretinopathy of diabetes, or surgery on the eye.

Retinal detachment may also occur spontaneously, a circumstance more common in people with moderate to severe myopia (nearsightedness).

Prompt treatment to reattach the retina is necessary to save vision

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment and Diagnostic Path

Retinal detachment does not cause pain or discomfort. Detachment may be gradual, in which case symptoms are progressive, or sudden, in which case loss of vision may be the only symptom. Symptoms of retinal detachment include

  • Seeing flashing lights or multiple floaters
  • The perception of a curtain or shadow dropping across the visual field, often from top to bottom though sometimes from the side
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of visual acuity

Ophthalmoscopy to examine the interior of the eye provides the diagnosis.

Treatment Options and Outlook

Most often, the preferred treatment for reattaching the retina is surgery. The surgeon may use laser, photocoagulation (heat), or cryotherapy (freezing) techniques. Other approaches include injecting sterile silicone oil into the inner eye or injecting a sterile gas bubble (pneumotherapy) into the vitreous humor to hold the retina in place with pressure.

A rapidly reattached retina often fully recovers without measurable loss of vision. Delay in reattaching the retina, or when the retina suddenly and completely detaches, often results in less successful vision preservation. An untreated retinal detachment results in permanent, complete loss of vision in the eye.

Risk Factors and Preventive Measures

People who have moderate to severe myopia (greater than – 8 diopters) are at increased risk for retinal detachment because of the eye’s shortened length. Retinal detachment is also a complication of LASIK surgery, cataract extraction and lens replacement surgery, and serious inflammatory conditions of the eye such as scleritis.

Retinopathy, in which extra blood vessels grow into the retina, also increases the risk for retinal detachment. Protective eyewear to reduce the risk of trauma to the eye can prevent trauma-related retinal detachment. In other circumstances, early detection and reattachment are the most effective measures to preserve vision.

See also LASER SURGERY; OPERATIONREFRACTIVE SURGERYSURGERY BENEFIT AND RISK ASSESSMENT.

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