What are Retinal tears and detachment – Vision Loss due to damaged Retina
The retina lines the eye. It gathers light and changes it into signals that the brain transforms into visual images. Sometimes part of the retina either tears, pulls away or detaches from the back of the eye. When this occurs, that part of the retina cannot gather light. Vision loss may occur. Tears or detachment results from aging, an eye-injury, or another eye problem.
Types of Retinal Detachment
There are three types of retinal detachments : –
* The most common type occurs when there is a break in the sensory layer of the retina and fluid seeps underneath, causing the layers of the retina to separate. Nearsighted people are more susceptible to this type of detachment because their eyes are longer than average from front to back, causing the retina to be thinner and more fragile. Patients who have undergone eye surgery or have experienced a serious eye injury are also at greater risk for this type of detachment.
* The second most common type occurs when strands of vitreous or scar tissue create traction on the retina, pulling it loose. Patients with diabetes are more likely to experience this type.
* The third type of detachment happens when fluid collects underneath the layers of the retina, causing it to separate from the back wall of the eye. This type usually occurs in conjunction with another disease affecting the eye that causes swelling or bleeding.
Symptoms of a retinal tear
If you have a tear, you may notice : –
* Floaters (specks or threads in your vision).
* Flashes (lights, stars or streaks in your vision).
* Sudden blurry vision.
Symptoms of a detachment
The most common symptom is a shadow spreading across the vision of one eye. You may also experience bright flashes of light and/or showers of dark spots called floaters. These symptoms are never painful.
Many people experience flashes or floaters and these are not necessarily a cause for alarm. However, if they are severe and seem to be getting worse and you are losing vision, then you should seek medical advice. Prompt treatment can often minimise the damage to your eye.
Signs and Symptoms of Retinal Detachment
* Light flashes
* “Wavy” or “watery” vision
* Veil or curtain obstructing vision
* Shower of floaters that resemble spots, bugs, or spider webs
* Sudden decrease of vision
How to Prevent Vision Loss
Early treatment helps prevent vision loss from retinal tears and detachment. If you have any of these symptoms, immediately consult an eye doctor.
You are at greater risk for tears and detachment if you : –
* Are very near-sighted.
* Have had a detachment before or
* Have a family history of retinal problems.
If your family has a history of retinal detachment and your doctor finds a weakness in your retina, then preventive laser or freezing treatment may be advised. However, in most cases it is not possible to take preventive action.
Retinal detachment does not happen as a result of straining your eyes, bending or heavy lifting.
Fixing a detachment: Detachments can be treated in the doctor’s clinic or a surgery centre. You may have more than one type of treatment.
They include the following : –
* The tear that caused the detachment is sealed with a laser or by freezing.
* The vitreous may be removed by surgery to keep it from pulling on the retina.
* A gas bubble may be placed in the eye. Or a flexible band may be placed around the eye. These hold the retina in place.
There are a number of ways to treat retinal detachment. Your retinal surgeon will determine which treatment is best for you based on the type, severity, and location of the detachment.
In this procedure, the retina surgeon numbs the eye with local anesthesia and injects a small gas bubble into the eye’s cavity. The bubble facilitates the repositioning of the retina back into its normal location, and keeps the two detached layers up against each other. Because the gas rises, this treatment works best for detachments in the upper portion of the eye.
Over a period of one to two weeks, the eye gradually absorbs the gas bubble. During that time, your eye surgeon will perform another procedure at our Florida practice to “tack down” the retina. This can be accomplished with a laser or through cryotherapy.
If you have a detached retina of a certain size and location, your retina surgeon at our Tampa Bay area center may treat it with a scleral buckle. When this technique is used, a tiny sponge or band made of silicone is secured around the eyeball, pressing inward and holding the retina in position. It is placed beneath the eyelids so it will not be visible after surgery.
After placing the scleral buckle, your retina surgeon may perform a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy to remove the vitreous gel from the eye, and may also seal a few areas of the retina into position with laser or cryotherapy. The scleral buckle technique may elongate the eye and cause nearsightedness, which may require post-operative glasses.
Reattachment with Silicone Oil
When other retinal detachment surgeries prove ineffective, silicone oil may be used to reattach the retina. To perform this procedure, the eye surgeon removes the vitreous gel and replaces it with silicone oil. Vision is extremely poor when the oil is inside of the eye. After the retina has resealed itself against the back of the eye, a second procedure is often performed to remove the oil.
After the operation
Some people will be encouraged to get up and carry on as usual on the day after the operation, although most people will be asked to keep their head in a particular position to help the healing process. Your eye specialist will prescribe eye drops and you will need to use these for a few weeks.
You can resume normal activities, including sex, as soon as you feel able.
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