If you’re experiencing floaters, light flashes in your eye, or a shadow or curtain in your peripheral vision, you may be experiencing retinal detachment.
What Is A Retina?
To begin understanding retinal detachment, it is beneficial to understand that the retina is the layer of your eye that is sensitive to light. It lines the inside of the eye, and it connects to the optic nerve to send messages to the brain.
In short, the retina is a key component of seeing.
What Is Retinal Detachment?
Retinal detachment happens when the retina “separates from the back wall of the eye, like wallpaper peeling off a wall.”
Small areas of the retina may be torn, and over time, those tears can lead to retinal detachment.
Three types of retinal detachment exist:
- Rhegmatogenous - This is the most common. A hole or tear in the retina allows fluid to pass through, ultimately detaching the retina from the blood supply.
- Tractional - Scar tissue pulls the retina from the eye. People with diabetes are more at risk of this detachment.
- Exudative - A much less common type, exudative detachments happen when eyes with abnormal inflammation or excessive blood vessel leakage accumulate fluid.
Who Is At Risk For Retinal Detachment?
People over the age of 40 are more likely to experience retinal detachment. Men are at greater risk than women, and whites are at greater risk that African-Americans.
Retinal detachment is more likely to occur in people who have:
- Myopia (nearsightedness).
- Previously detached a retina.
- Retinal detachments in their family history.
- Had cataract surgery.
- Had eye surgery, in general.
- Other eye conditions and diseases.
What Are The Symptoms of Retinal Detachment?
Symptoms of retinal detachment include:
- An increase in floaters.
- An increase in light flashes.
- A curtain appearing over your field of vision.
Some people with a retinal detachment may not be aware of changes to their vision.
What Should I Do If I Have My Retina Detaches?
Contact your doctor. The doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine next steps.
How Is Retinal Detachment Treated?
Retinal detachments are usually treated with surgery. The type of surgery you get depends on the type of detachment—laser surgeries or freeze treatments are relatively simple, while a more complex surgery may require the patient to stay in the hospital.
Most retinal detachments are treatable, but sometimes, additional treatments are needed.
The visual outcome of a treatment may not be known for several months following the surgery.
If you think you might have detached your retina, treat it as a medical emergency and see a doctor right away.
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