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July 7, 2014: Retinal Detachment

A retinal detachment is a serious and sight-threatening event, occurring when the retina (the light-sensitive inner lining of the back of the eye) becomes separated from its underlying supportive tissue. The retina cannot function when it detaches and, unless it is reattached soon, permanent vision loss may result.

Signs and symptoms of retinal detachment
If you suddenly notice spots, floaters and/or flashes of light, you may be experiencing a retinal detachment. Your vision might become blurry, or you might have poor vision. Another symptom is seeing a shadow or a curtain coming down from the top of the eye, up from the bottom of your vision or across from the side. These symptoms can occur gradually as the retina pulls away from the supportive tissue, or they may occur suddenly if the retina detaches immediately. There is no pain associated with retinal detachment. If you experience any of the above symptoms, consult your eye doctor right away. Immediate treatment increases your odds of regaining lost vision.

What cause retinal detachments?
An injury to the eye or face can cause a detached retina, as can very high levels of nearsightedness. Extremely nearsighted people have longer eyeballs with thinner retinas that may be more prone to detaching. Cataract surgery, tumors, eye disease and systemic disease such as diabetes and sickle cell disease may also cause retinal detachment. Retinal detachments can also occur with no known cause.

Treatment for retinal tears and detachments
Surgery is the only effective treatment for a torn or detached retina. The procedure or combination of procedures your doctor uses depends on the severity and location of the problem.

Urgency of symptoms of Retinal Detachment
If you ever notice any of these symptoms, it is very important to talk to your eye doctor's office and make an appointment to be seen as soon as possible. Please do not delay, because irreversible damage can occur if the problem is not addressed within a certain window of time.