What is a Retinal Detachment?
A retinal detachment is when the retina pulls away from the blood vessels that supply the eye with oxygen and nutrients. If a retinal detachment is not caught and treated it may lead to blindness.
What does a Retinal Detachment look like?
A retinal detachment cannot usually be seen when looking at the person but can be seen on photos your Optometrist can take on the test room camera or on an OCT scan. For example here is an image of a normal OCT image of the eye:
Here is an image of a detached retina:
This illustration will make it easier to visual how the retina detaches from the wall of the eye:
What causes a Retinal Detachment?
A retinal detachment can be caused by a build-up of fluid between the retina and the lens of the eye. This causes the retina to pull away from the blood supply meaning the nerve cells inside the retina will die without a blood supply.
It can also be caused if you have had recent cataract removal surgery this will have made the retina more vulnerable to damage.
Trauma to the head can also cause this as the force from either falling or being punched has a strong impact.
How do you avoid them?
In most cases you can’t prevent a retinal detachment. Having your annual sight tests and OCT scans can prevent the risks due to early detection. If you experience any warning signs such as:
• Flashing Lights
• Sudden drop in vision
• Or experience a “black curtain” effect going over the vision
Surgery is usually required for retinal detachments under local or general anaesthetic. The main surgical techniques are as follows:
• Vitrectomy: Most common, fluid is removed from the inside of the eye and it is replaced with a gas or silicone bubble, this holds the retina in place.
• Scleral Buckling: Bands of silicone rubber or sponge are stitched onto the white of the eye, allowing the retina to lie against the wall of the eye. Pneumatic Retinopathy: If the detachment is small and un-complicated, a small bubble of gas is injected into the eye to press the retina back into place.
Have any concerns?
If you are unsure of your symptoms seek medical attention immediately. Retinal detachments can be fixed if caught as early as possible.
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