Retinal Detachment-Signs, Emergency Response, and Treatment Approaches
Although retinal detachment can occur suddenly or over hours, days, or weeks, the warning signs will be obvious and seemingly appear out of nowhere. Retinal detachment is the separation of the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye from its supporting layers. Retinal detachment can lead to blindness in the affected eye, so it is imperative to seek urgent medical treatment right away to preserve vision.
As the retina detaches, it creates a dark shadow in the peripheral vision, like a curtain or veil, that ultimately can progress to complete vision loss. Retinal detachment signs also include sudden, brief flashes of light, an increase in the number of eye floaters that look like cobweb strings or transparent bubbles that follow the filed of vision as the eye moves. Causes for retinal detachment may be from an injury, inflammation, damage, or structural changes that affect the eye over time. The retina is responsible for receiving light that enters the eye and producing an image that translates to neural impulses that are sent to the brain through the optic nerve. The retina allows you to see what you see in front of you. When it is compromised, so is your vision.
The treatment approach for retinal detachment is inevitably a form of surgery. Surgery is usually the necessary solution for detecting retinal breaks, sealing them up, and relieving the pulling that caused the detachment in the first place. Surgery options include scleral buckle, pneumatic retinopexy, and vitrectomy. Scleral buckle surgery involves attaching a tiny flexible band of silicone on to the sclera, outside the white part of the eye. The band pushes the side of the eye toward the retina to aid in reattachment. Cryopexy, or freezing, or lasers may also be utilized during this procedure. Pneumatic retinopexy involves injecting an air or gas bubble into the eye to hold the retina in place while removing fluid from the eye. Many times, the swelling or buildup of fluid behind the eye causes a retinal detachment. The pressure from the bubble will cause the retina to reattach to the wall at the back of the eye and the bubble will disappear over time. A vitrectomy is like pneumatic retinopexy but may involve the use of silicone oil instead of gas for the bubble which will require removal later as it will not disappear on its own.
Reattaching the retina with surgery is highly successful but positive outcomes rely on the reason for detachment, the type of detachment, the extent of the damage, and whether the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision, was affected. As soon as you exhibit symptoms, seek immediate emergency care. Do not delay in making sure your vision is restored.
For full retinal imaging with your comprehensive eye exam, call Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or schedule online at WEBSITE.