Retinal detachment is a serious event and needs immediate medical attention. It is a sight-threatening condition where the retina gets separated from its underlying supportive tissue.

Retinal Detachment Symptoms

The symptoms of retinal detachment can start suddenly or may happen gradually. Some common symptoms include:

  • Increase in number and size of floaters
  • A sudden appearance of floaters with flashes
  • Appearance of a grey curtain across the field of vision
  • A shadow appears in the periphery (side) of the vision
  • Distorted or a sudden decrease in the vision.

Retinal Detachment Causes

The vitreous gel that fills the eyeball behind the lens is normally attached to the light-sensitive retina. As a part of the normal aging process, the vitreous gel may shrink or may remain partially attached to the retina. In some cases, the vitreous can pull, creating a break or tear in the retina. This allows eye fluid from the vitreous cavity, to leak through the break and enter underneath it which results in retinal detachment. Injury to the eye, blunt trauma or even some eye conditions like severe near-sightedness and diabetic eye disease can also cause retinal detachment. 

Retinal Detachment Diagnosis

Your ophthalmologist or eye healthcare professional will perform a retinal examination. In this, the back of the eyes is examined using a bright light and special lenses. The eye doctor will check for any holes, retinal tears or detachments. The doctor may also carry out ultrasound imaging tests. Such tests provide detailed information about the retinal tissue layers to check for any signs of damage.

Retinal Detachment Treatment

Retinal detachment can be treated with surgery.  The chance of better results increases with early detection and immediate intervention. Laser photocoagulation and/or cryopexy technique are commonly used procedures to treat retinal tears or breaks in the absence of retinal detachment.

Retinal Detachment Surgery

A retinal detachment surgery helps to seal the holes or tears in the retina. The operation also aims to reattach the retina to the back of the eye. Your surgeon may offer either a local or a general anesthetic for the operation. Vitrectomy or scleral buckle are two different but common methods that are used in retinal detachment surgery.

Retinal Detachment After-Effects

Initially, after the surgery, the vision will be blurry. This may be due to either the gas or oil bubble inserted into the eye during the operation, or due to the small change in the shape of the eye which happens in the scleral buckle. In patients where gas or oil bubble is used, the vision begins to sharpen up once the fluid level drops. However, the blurriness related to the buckle tends to decrease over the period, and it can be corrected with glasses.

Retinal Detachment Precautions

  • Wear an eye patch for some days
  • Do not get any soap in the eye
  • Wear sunglasses
  • If your surgeon has used a gas or oil bubble to hold the retina in place, he/she will give specific instructions which you need to follow for a few weeks after the surgery
  • Do not lie on your back
  • Avoid air travel.
  • Do not go for trekking or hiking as a change in altitude may cause the bubble to expand and it can increase the pressure inside the eye
  • You can drive after consulting with the doctor.

Retinal Detachment Risks

  • Infection
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Haemorrhage into the vitreous cavity
  • Partial or total loss of eyesight

Retinal Detachment Recovery

You will need around 1 to 4 weeks to recover after the surgery before returning to normal activities.

 

S L Prabhavathi

S L Prabhavathi

MS, FVRS, Vitreo-Retina Surgeon at Neoretina
MBBS (2006-2011): Siddartha Medical College Vijayawada(AP)

MS (2013-2016): PGIMER, Chandigarh

FVRS(2016-2018) LVPEI, Bhubaneshwar

Special Interests: Retinopathy of Prematurity, Diabetic Retinopathy, Retinal Dystrophies, Pediatric Retina.
S L Prabhavathi