- 1 What is the retina?
- 2 What is retinal detachment?
- 3 What is the most important warning sign of retinal detachment?
- 4 What are the other symptoms of retinal detachment?
- 5 Am I at risk for retinal detachment?
- 6 How do ophthalmologists diagnose retinal detachment?
- 7 How do doctors treat retinal detachment?
- 8 Magrabi’s advice:
Vision is one of the five senses that mankind uses to interact with its surroundings. The eyes are the organ responsible for vision. Eyes resemble the camera where the cornea acts like the aperture, the lens as the lens of the camera and finally, the retina acts like the negative of the film. Interpreting the image is the mission of the brain just like the red room!
What is the retina?
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye globe. It lies on a bed of supportive tissue that provides it with blood vessels, nutrients, oxygen, and physical support. To see a perfect image your retina must be in perfect health, and the rest of your body too!
What is retinal detachment?
From its name, it is when the retinal cells detach from the underlying supportive tissue, this separation deprives the retina of oxygen and important nutrients. Within hours, retinal cells will die leading to irreversible vision loss if not treated as soon as possible.
What is the most important warning sign of retinal detachment?
Seeing sudden floaters or bright flashes of light and/or reduced vision are the most important alarming signs for retinal detachment.
Don’t ignore any of these signs, you must visit your ophthalmologist immediately to prevent vision loss. If you have an alarming sign of a heart attack, would you stay home? NO! The same with retinal detachment signs, go to the nearest specialized hospital as soon as possible!
What are the other symptoms of retinal detachment?
The detachment of the retina is a painless disease, but it has other warning signs that help you give you more attention to your eyes and vision, so, please act seriously if you or any of your beloved ones complain of any of the following:
- Floaters: you may complain of tiny specks or shadows floating in your field of vision. (usually described as insects flying frantically in your field of vision and don’t seem to fly away).
- Flashes: seeing sudden bright lights in on or both of your eyes is a very alarming sign.
- Reduced or blurred vision: although this is a common sign with other visual problems, if you are at high risk of retinal detachment then this sign must be treated seriously.
- Decreased vision field: loss of peripheral vision is one of the most important signs of retinal detachment.
- Curtain-like vision: many patients have described the early sign of retinal detachment as seeing through a curtain and not a clear or clean one!
Am I at risk for retinal detachment?
Retinal detachment is not uncommon, but not all the population is at risk! Some people are at higher risk than others. If you have any of the following diseases then you should treat any of the previously mentioned symptoms very seriously. Risk factors include:
- Older age: if you are over 50 years old.
- Family history: If any of your family members suffered from retinal detachment at any point in their lives.
- Eye injury: if you ever suffered a direct injury to your eyes like in a car accident or in violent games.
- Eye surgery: if you underwent any eye surgery for any reason external like injury or internal like cataract-removal surgery!
- Other eye diseases: like severe nearsightedness (find out more here), or uveitis or retinal tear.
- Chronic diseases: if you are a longstanding diabetic then you are at high risk of diabetic retinopathy that may lead to retinal detachment! Hypertension is a risk too.
How do ophthalmologists diagnose retinal detachment?
Your doctor will examine your retina in routine eye checkups, or if you complain of any of the mentioned symptoms and came to seek help.
He/she will take a full detailed history of your general health, eye health and family history.
If your doctor suspects retinal detachment he will put you under thorough eye examination to diagnose it and its cause.
- Fundus examination: your ophthalmologist will add a few drops of pupil dilators so he can use light and specially designed lenses to examine the back of your eye globe including the retina. This examination gives a detailed view of your retina easily detecting tears, holes or detachment. Your doctor will usually perform this examination in both eyes even if you complain of only one!
- Ultrasonic imaging: your doctor may ask for ultrasound imaging to examine your retina properly. He will resort to this examination if there is bleeding inside your eye that is preventing him from viewing the retina clearly in the fundus examination.
How do doctors treat retinal detachment?
Fortunately, retinal detachment -if detected early enough- could be treated and reversed, restoring your vision!
There are many methods for the treatment of retinal detachment, your doctor is the only one capable of choosing the best treatment option! His/her choice depends on the severity of the detachment, your general health, your existing risk factors, and others.
Treatment options include:
- Pneumatic retinopexy:
In this procedure, your doctor injects a sterile bubble of air/gas into the vitreous body (the jelly-like structure that keeps the eye globe in shape). This bubble pushes back the detached retinal tissue towards its supportive tissue.
This allows the retinal cells to re-attach back to its supportive tissue thus allowing it to use its oxygen and nutrients and restores its health.
This bubble also stops the fluid from accumulating behind the detached part, preventing further areas from detaching!
The bubble and the accumulated fluid will then re-absorb within a few days, but you must stay in position for a few days to keep it in place as long as required for detached retinal tissue to adhere back.
- Scleral buckling:
This method includes suturing/sewing a silicone band from the outside of the eye globe over the affected area. This puts pressure and indents the affected part of the retina forcing the vitreous body to push back the detached retinal tissue to adhere to its supporting tissue.
If there are multiple tears, then your doctor will create a belt around the sclera to reattach all detached areas once and for all.
If the problem is in the vitreous fluid, then your doctor will remove it and replace it with sterile material (air, gas or silicone oil) with an amount enough to put back the retina to its place. This flattens the retina back to its supportive tissue.
In the case of air or gas, they will self-absorb within weeks. But if silicone oil was used then surgery within a few months is required to remove it.
All the previous procedures could be combined with one another if required.
Retinal detachment is like a heart attack to your eye! Treat it like an emergency and seek specialized medical help immediately! At Magrabi’s centers and hospitals, we have a Retina unit with the latest technology and excellent ophthalmologists to treat retinal detachment and restore your vision immediately.