Retinal Detachment Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

What is Retinal Detachment?

The retina lines the inside back of the eye and allows light that comes into the eye to become vision by converting light into an electrical signal sent to the mind by the optic nerve giving you sight. Many conditions can lead to the retina separating from the wall of the eye, like wallpaper peeling off of a wall.

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment

Even though retinal detachment is painless, it’s essential to be aware of symptoms so your condition doesn’t worsen.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes (photopsia)
  • A curtain-like shadow over your visual field
  • Gradually reduced side vision

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

How Does The Retina Become Detached?

There are three mechanisms of retina detachment:

Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment

This is the most common type of retinal detachment and is caused by a hole or tear in the retinal tissue that allows fluid to enter the space between the retina and wall of the eye.

The retina is thinnest near the front of the eye as it terminates in an area called the ora serrata.

Retinal tears and detachments tend to occur in this peripheral region first. An early detachment may not be noticeable as it can be very far in the peripheral vision.

Rhegmatogenous detachments can occur from trauma or when the vitreous gel separates from the eye wall (Posterior Vitreous Detachment- PVD). Some patients have abnormal thinning (lattice degeneration) that can predispose them to retinal tears or holes, increasing the risk of Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment.

Tractional Retinal Detachment

This form of detachment is caused most often by scar tissue that forms on the retina’s surface and causes pulling or traction, creating a separation of the retina from the eye wall. Diabetes is the most common cause of this type of detachment. Still, other conditions such as vitreoretinal traction syndrome and retinopathy of prematurity can also predispose to this form of detachment.

Exudative Retinal Detachment

This type of retinal detachment occurs when fluid leaks out of the retinal or choroidal blood vessels and fluid accumulates under the retina. This form of detachment is much rarer and often is seen with inflammatory conditions or where there is excessive leakage from abnormal blood vessels.

Risk Factors for Retinal Detachment

There are many risk factors that could increase your risk of retinal detachment.

Those risks include:

  • High myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Advanced age
  • Lattice Degeneration (peripheral thinning of the retina)
  • Previous retinal detachment
  • Trauma
  • Prior eye surgery
  • Family history of retinal tears and/or detachment

Diagnosis of Retinal Detachment

To diagnose you with retinal detachment, Dr. DellaCroce may use the following tests:

  • Ultrasound images: If bleeding has occurred in your eye, making it difficult to see your retina, ultrasound imaging can be used for your diagnosis.
  • Retinal examination: The most common way to diagnose retinal detachment is through a retinal examination. During this process, your doctor will use a bright light and special lenses to examine the back of your eye. This type of device will provide a highly detailed view of your whole eye, allowing them to see any retinal holes, tears, or deformations.

Even if you have symptoms in just one eye, Dr. DellaCroce will likely still examine both of your eyes. Additionally, if you begin experiencing new symptoms after diagnosis, contact us right away.

To learn about treatment for Retinal Detachment, see our Retinal Detachment Repair page.

Contact the Retina Center of Arkansas or make an appointment today to learn how we can help repair your detached retina.

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