Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina of the eye is pulled away from the underlying tissue to which it is attached. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency which can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated. In most cases, the detachment is a slowly progressing issue which must be treated once symptoms are realized. In some cases, a detachment occurs due to a trauma which causes a tear in the retina, allowing fluid to enter the vitreous and pull on the retinal tissue.

Causes Of A Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can be complication of cataract surgery. A severe inflammation may alter the position of the retinal tissue and begin the detachment process. Other causes of a retinal detachment may be as follows:

  • Nearsightedness
  • A retinal tear
  • Family history of retinal detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataract surgery
  • Trauma
  • Existing eye condition

Symptoms Of A Retinal Detachment

Symptoms of retinal detachment may progress slowly or rapidly, but both should be reported to a medical doctor as soon as possible so as to minimize the risk of vision loss. Some of the symptoms of a retinal detachment include:

  • A sudden decrease in visual acuity
  • A sudden increase in the amount of “floaters” in vision
  • Bright flashes in the periphery
  • An unnatural “curving” of straight lines
  • Loss of central vision
  • A dense shadow throughout the visual field

The patient should be taken to an emergency room as quickly as possible.

Diagnosis Of A Retinal Detachment

Diagnosis of a retinal detachment is made after a thorough medical eye examination and the performance of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Dilated eye examination
  • Ultrasound of the eye
  • Fundus photography of the retina
  • Visual acuity test
  • Slit-lamp examination
  • Electroretinogram
  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Ophthalmoscopy

Treatment Of A Retinal Detachment

A retinal detachment may be treated in many ways, which may include one or both of the following:

  • Cryotherapy
  • Laser photocoagulation
  • Pneumatic retinopexy
  • Scleral buckle
  • Vitrectomy

Most surgeries to repair a retinal detachment are successful. In some cases, a second procedure will need to be performed. After a successful procedure, vision will take time to improve but may not return to previous levels of acuity.

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