Retinal Detachment

What is a retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment is a separation of the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye (the retina) from its supporting layers. Retinal detachments are often associated with a tear or hole in the retina through which eye fluids may leak. This causes separation of the retina from the underlying tissues.

What causes a retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment often occurs on its own without an underlying cause. However, it may also be caused by trauma, diabetes, or an inflammatory disorder. It is most often caused by the formation of a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). During this process, the vitreous gel tugs on the retina and this can cause a tear in the retina leading to a retinal detachment. Central vision becomes severely affected if the macula, the part of the retina responsible for fine central vision, becomes detached.

The risk factors are previous eye surgery, nearsightedness, a family history of retinal detachment, uncontrolled diabetes, and trauma.

Symptoms

  • Bright flashes of light, especially in peripheral vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Floaters in the eye
  • Shadow or blindness in a part of the visual field of one eye

Signs and tests

Tests will be done to check the retina. This includes a dilated eye exam to examine the retina to look for the areas of retinal tears, holes, and detachments.

Treatment

Most patients with a retinal detachment will need surgery, either immediately or after a short period of time. The type of treatment will depend upon the location of detachment, the severity of the detachment, etc. Types of surgery include:

  • Cryopexy: A cold probe is applied to the area of the tear to form a scar, which holds the retinal to the underlying layer.
  • Laser treatment: surgery to seal the tears or holes in the retina.
  • Pneumatic retinopexy: A gas bubble is placed in the eye to help the retina float back into place.
  • Scleral buckle: surgery to indent the wall of the eye, which reduces fluid flow through the retina and helps reduce vitreous traction.
  • Vitrectomy: to remove gel or scar tissue pulling on the retina.

If you experience any symptoms of a retinal detachment including flashes, floaters, and curtains in your peripheral vision, please contact us immediately. At Denver Eye Surgeons, our doctors have the knowledge, expertise, and equipment necessary to diagnose and treat retinal tears and retinal detachments. We have a fellowship trained retinal specialist on staff to help with the diagnosis and treatment of retinal detachments.

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