Retinal Detachments: How It Happens and What to Do about It?

Retinal detachments are a condition where the retinal tissue in the back of your eye – the part of your eye that processes light – pulls away from the tissue behind it. While they are usually painless, retinal detachments are a serious medical condition that can result in permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Human Eye Anatomy

How it Happens

There are some risk factors that make retinal detachment more likely:

If you are severely nearsighted, you are more likely to experience a retinal tear or detachment because myopia (nearsightedness) involves a chronic strain to the retina.

Eye injury or cataract surgery also increases your likelihood of retinal detachment for a similar reason. These situations can disturb the retina or the nearby vitreous body (gel), which increases the possibility of a retinal tear.

Family history of retinal detachment also increases your chances because the same biological factors that predispose family members to retinal detachments may be present for you.

As you age, your likelihood of retinal detachment This happens because vitreous gel shrinks as you age, creating tension on your retina. Sometimes that tension leads to a retinal tear or detachment.

A previous history of retinal tears or detachments is also a risk factor that can lead to multiple retinal detachments.

Retinal Detachment

What to Do About It

Warning signs of a retinal detachment include increased “floaters” in your vision, flashes of light, or dimming of peripheral vision. These warning signs are caused by the retina losing its ability to work properly when it detaches from the nerve and blood supply at the back of your eye.

Successful treatment for retinal detachments includes early detection. It’s important to get your eyes checked regularly by a vision specialist. They can spot potential retinal tears before you ever notice the warning signs of retinal detachment. Regular follow-up visits to a vision specialist can help prevent multiple retinal detachments for the same reason.

If you notice any of the warning signs of retinal detachment, visit your vision specialist immediately. Do not wait to see if your vision improves on its own. Retinal detachments can become worse suddenly. If they are not treated promptly, retinal detachments can result in permanent vision loss.

When caught early, the correction for a retinal tear or detachment can prevent or reverse the loss of vision. Sometimes the tear can be repaired. Some surgeries can minimize the damage caused by a retinal detachment or decrease the likelihood of multiple retinal detachments.

Regardless of the severity of the condition, retinal detachment is considered a medical emergency and should be regarded accordingly.