Is a Retinal Detachment Serious? (Hint: Yes)

You can think of the retina as the “film,” or image sensor, of your eye. It’s a thin layer of tissue upon which images convert from light energy to signals transmitted through the optic nerve to your brain. 

For your eyes to work properly, the retina tissue must rest flat against the rear surface of the eye. Should it lift away, or detach, you will lose vision. Your sight could become blurry or you may experience blindness without prompt treatment. 

The ophthalmologists at IC Laser Eye Care can help when you notice the warning signs of retinal detachment. There are treatments that can stop optical deterioration, but it’s important to act immediately when you notice symptoms to prevent the deterioration of the retinal tissue. There’s no pain associated with detached retinas, so visual clues are all you have. 

Symptoms of retinal detachment

Retinal detachment can happen suddenly, but there are usually warning signs before or in the early stages of detachment. These signs include: 

If you experience any of these symptoms, there’s a chance your eyesight can be returned to normal with immediate treatment. 

Types of retinal detachment

There are various types of retinal detachment:

Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment

Rhegmatogenous detachments are the most common. A hole or tear in the retina allows fluid within the eye to penetrate between the retina and the wall of the eye, separating the retinal tissue from its proper place. 

This interrupts blood supply to the retinal tissue and it starts to die. 

Exudative retinal detachment

Exudative detachment is similar, but fluid accumulates behind the retina without any tear or hole. 

Both rhegmatogenous and exudative detachments could be due to age-related macular degeneration, injury, or inflammatory conditions. 

Tractional retinal detachment 

Tractional detachment results from scar tissue on the retina, which pushes retinal tissue away from its place along the eye wall. This type of detachment is usually associated with medical conditions, including poorly controlled diabetes

Common treatments for retinal tears and detachments

In some cases, minor tears may be monitored and can heal naturally. But holes and tears usually require treatment. Cryotherapy and laser procedures are in-office treatments that seal tears, preventing further progression. 

Detached retinas often require surgery. The specific procedure and approach depends on your particular detachment. The various strategies used will press the retina back in place against the rear of the eye, where it’s fastened to repair the detachment. 

The success of surgery depends on the severity of the detachment, as well as how long the retina was partially or completely detached. It’s sometimes months after surgery before sight improves. In serious cases, vision might not be restored. 

Retinal detachment is very serious. Contact one of our three offices in Bensalem and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, New Jersey, as soon as you notice any symptom that may suggest a retina issue. 

Call the nearest office directly or request an appointment online, and stress the emergency nature of your issue. Your sight is too precious to do without, so arrange your emergency exam right now. 

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