A retinal detachment occurs when the retina (a nerve layer that lines the back wall of the eye) separates from the back of the eye. It is usually due to a tear in the retina which can happen because of an inherent weakness, trauma or the vitreous gel pulling a hole in the retina.
Retinal tears and detachment occur when the vitreous, a clear jelly-like substance that fills the eye, pulls from the retina and causes the retina to tear. Liquid that passes through the tear and settles under the retina causes a separation of the retina from the back wall of the eye. The retina cannot work if it is detached from its blood supply.
Retinal detachment itself is painless. But warning signs almost always appear before it occurs or has advanced. These warning signs or symptoms include:
- The sudden appearance of many floaters — tiny specks that seem to drift through your field of vision
- Flashes of light in one or both eyes
- Blurred vision
- Gradually reduced side (peripheral) vision
- A curtain-like shadow over your visual field
If caught and treated early there could be little or no vision loss after the eye heals from being repaired. However, if the center of the retina (the macula) detaches, there is usually some permanent vision loss. If left untreated, a detached retina can cause total blindness.
Retinal detachments occur most frequently in people over the age of 40, although they may occur at any age. It is more common in men and Caucasians. Nearsightedness, a personal or family history of retinal detachment, cataract surgery, eye diseases and eye trauma increase the risk of developing a retinal detachment.
A retinal tear or detachment is a medical emergency and you should contact your doctor immediately if you develop any symptoms. During a visit to Medical Eye Center in Medford, Dr. Lemley will review your medical history and perform a thorough eye examination. He will also dilate your pupils and view your retinas and inner eye structures. Tonometry is used to measure the pressure in your eyes. A visual acuity test is used to determine how well you see at different distances.
Imaging tests may be used to produce pictures of your inner eye blood vessels and retinal structures. Fundus photography is a specialized imaging test used to take pictures of the structures located at the back of the eye, including the retina. Fluorescein angiography is a specialized type of photographic eye test that is used to detect blood vessel problems in the retina and choroid.
Upon diagnosis, Dr. Lemley will determine the best choice for treatment of your torn or detached retina.
To learn more, contact us at 541-779-4711 or medfordretinacare.com.