What is Retinal Detachment?
A highly alarming medical condition, Retinal detachment refers to pulling off the tissues of the retina; attached at the back of the eye. This dis-connectivity from the blood vessels of the eye leads to oxygen deprivation and improper nourishment. In other words, this condition causes the cells of the retina to suffer from lack of oxygen.
Good thing is, the condition of retinal detachment starts showing clearing visible signs as soon as it develops. Thus, early warning signs are always to be paid attention to. However, if one tends to ignore them and leave the eye untreated, chances of a permanent vision loss in the affected eye are very much high.
Types of Retinal Detachment
Retinal Detachment effects a human eye in three ways, and thus, it has three forms or types, which are mentioned as below:
This particular type of retinal detachment allows an abnormal tissue to grow on the surface of the retina. Under such a situation, the tissues of the retina get detached. Doctors believe Proliferative Retinopathy, which is highly common among diabetic patients, to be the major cause of Tractional retinal detachment.
Rhegmatogenous effects people the most. This highly common eye problem is caused by retinal tears; holes or breaks in the retina. Due to the tearing of the retina, fluid of the middle eye leaks from the tear or hole and accumulates at the retina. Due to increased settling of the fluid on the retina, the retina gets moved from the layer beneath it. Prolonged settling up of the fluid on the surface of the retina can also cause removal of the retina entirely from the back of the eye.
It is a special type of retinal detachment in which the fluid or blood from the tissues of the eye ball flows under the retina. Owing to this, the retina gets detached from it’s underneath layer. This type of retinal detachment often comes with certain complications, as it can lead to other health conditions like eye tumors, inflammation, macular degeneration, inflammation in the choroid and high blood pressure.
General symptoms of retinal detachment
Generally, the condition of retinal detachment goes painless. However, its symptoms or warning signs become quite evident, long before the condition properly develops. Few of these are explained below:
- A person in the mode of developing retinal detachment would see sudden flashes of light in his affected eye.
- Appearance of too many floaters, the event of which happening all of a sudden. Floaters are actually small traces of debris in your eye field. They resemble a lot like hairs, spots or strings. Although floaters are generally harmless, but if one receives a too much exposure of them, it becomes a cause to visit the eye specialist.
- Common symptoms of retinal detachment also include shadowing of some portion of the vision field, which increases, as the condition progresses.
If one seems to notice any of the above mentioned symptoms, make a visit to the doctor on an urgent basis.
Retinal detachment can occur as a result of numerous possibilities. Few of them are listed as below:
- Eye injury
- The condition of advanced diabetes can also result in such trouble for the eye.
- Any prevailing inflammatory eye disorder
- Change in pressure of the eye vitreous (VIT-ree-us), which is actually a gel like material that is present in the human eye for filling up. Shrinkage of this gel can create a condition of retinal tear and finally, retinal detachment.
How retinal detachment occurs?
The common cause of retinal detachment is the collection of the gel like material underneath the retina, after getting leaked from a tear in the eye. Reasons for tearing of the eye can be explained as below:
- As soon as a person starts to age, his retina gets more prone to thinning. When there arises a situation of tugging of the vitreous gel inside the eye, the already thinned retina cannot survive it for long. As a result, a tear or hole develops on the retina. The fluid soon starts to peep down and collect on the layer of the retina, present beneath it.
- The collection of the fluid underneath the retina can also be a result of inflammatory conditions and disorders.
What factors can put you at a greater risk of retinal detachment?
- Family history of retinal detachment
- Previous history of retinal detachment in one eye
- Cataract removal surgery in the past
- Extreme case of myopia (nearsightedness)
- Eye disease or disorder that occurred years back
- Severe eye injury or trauma
- Aging is believed to be one of the major causes of retinal detachment
Tests and Diagnosis
Eye specialists mainly make use of two types of tests to diagnose Retinal detachment. These are listed as below:
- Ultrasonography: In this particular test, sound waves are used to detect the disorder. An ultrasonic image of the affected eye along with the disorder gets created on a monitor due to the bouncing of sound waves off the retina, during the event of bombardment of ultrasonic waves on the eye.
- Ophthalmoscope: As per this test, the doctor flashes a bright light with an instrument that has a specially designed lens to examine the eye. Interesting fact about this information is, it obtains a highly detailed image of the insides of the eye. Thus, making it easier for the doctor to examine retinal tears, holes and detachments.
Treatments and drugs
Surgery remains the best option to cure a retinal tear, or any kind of detachment that effects the eye. However it entirely depends upon the status of the eye as to if surgery is required or the treatment can be done with medications.
Different methods known to cure Retinal tears
On the event of a retinal tear, before getting evolved into a retinal detachment, the doctor can suggest an outpatient procedure, which would actually prevent the condition of retinal detachment to arise and hence prevent the damage to eye sight.
- Laser surgery: In this process, a laser beam is directed towards the affected eye. This makes the area around the tear to scatter and kind of weld the tissue. Hence the retina gets treated of its tear.
- Freezing: This process is also known as ‘Cryopeksy’ and pronounced as (KRY-o-pek-see). It involves freezing of the outer surface of the eye, right over the location of the tear. Owing to freezing on that area, a scar gets created which further protects the retina.
Post getting treated, the patient is asked to refrain from strenuous activities for a couple of weeks. This buys time for the eye to settle in properly with the adjustments that has been done in the treatment process.
If the affected eye is final with the disorder of retinal detachment, certain surgical procedures would be required to cure it. Depending as per the specifications of your retinal detachment, the doctor might suggest the process of cryopexy, to be carried along with the main procedure.
Different treatment procedures to cure retinal detachment are described as follows:
- Injecting air or gas into the eye: Medical science term this procedure as ‘Retinopexy’ (pronounced as RET-ih-no-pek-see), which involves injection of a bubble of air into the vitreous section of the eye. Upon the proper placement of the air bubble, it floats freely against the retinal tear and eventually seals it. In this way, it prevents further peeping of the vitreous fluid into the retinal layer. With no more pouring of the fluid, the accumulated fluid gets absorbed and the retina starts to heal the tear on its own.
- Indenting the surface of the eye: The procedure is known as ‘Scleral’ (SKLEER-ul) and it involves sewing of a piece of silicon rubber or sponge over the Sclera (white region) of the eye. Owing to such placement of materials over the eye, some of the internal pressure created by the tugging vitreous solution gets released. In the case of multiple tears in the retina, a belt kind of formation is created with the materials. This form of adjustment usually remains for the whole life of the patient.
- Draining and replacing the fluid in the eye: Known as ‘Vitrectomy’, the procedure involves removing of the vitreous gel along with some of the attached tissues that creates a pressure on the retina. Post removal, gas or liquid fills the hollowed space inside the eye. In no time, the inserted gas or liquid will be absorbed and fills the vitreous space attaching the retina.
Surgical procedures are not always aimed to reattach the retina. It also comes with the loose possibility of a normal vision post-surgery. The chances of the recovery of lost vision greatly depends on the fact that the macula regioe fact of lost vision eye. the retina. n got effected by it or not.
Prevention of retinal detachment
Medical science has not been able to suggest definite ways to prevent Retinal detachment. However, if one stays alert of certain warning signs, loss of vision can be fairly avoided. These are mentioned as below:
- Bright flashes of light
- Sudden increase in floaters
- Shadow in the field of vision
Upon eruptions of these signs or if you have someone in your family who has detached retina and your age is more than 40, then immediate medical help is a must.