Things You Should Know about Retinal Detachment Causes
The retina is a paper-thin, light-sensitive layer of cells lining the back of the eye. Its function is to record light images entering the eye and send electrical signals, via the optic nerve, to the brain. The brain then translates these signals into the visual images we see. Thus, since the entire process of sight begins with the retina, a healthy and fully functioning retina is essential for clear vision.
Retinal detachment occurs when this thin membrane comes loose from its supporting tissues on the back wall of the eye. There are definite retinal detachment causes, symptoms, and contributing factors.
Dr. David J. Parks, of Pacific Retina Specialists in Beverly Hills, CA, is a highly experienced, board-certified ophthalmologist who specializes in eye diseases involving the retina. Among the many procedures Dr. Parks performs to preserve the eyesight of his patients and help them see clearly again are those designed to repair a detached retina.
How to Tell if You Have a Detached Retina
Retinal detachment is painless, but there are distinct warning symptoms. Patients typically notice spots, specks, or floaters drifting across their field of vision, along with flashes of light.
Vision may also become blurry and patients may notice a dark curtain or shadow obscuring part of their visual field. These symptoms warrant immediate evaluation by an ophthalmologist.
There are three different underlying causes of retinal detachment, each of which results in the retina pulling away, or detaching, from its underlying tissues.
- Rhegmatogenous: A tear or hole in the retina, which allows fluids to form underneath it.
- Exudative: Fluid buildup beneath the retina because of injury or inflammation, but without any tears or breaks in the retina.
- Tractional: Contraction of scar tissue on the retinal surface that pulls the retina away from underlying tissues.
It is impossible to predict who will suffer a retinal detachment, but patients with certain contributing factors are at higher risk. Those having one or more of these factors should be especially vigilant for symptoms suggestive of retinal detachment.
Patients are also advised to have a contingency plan in place for seeking expeditious emergency treatment. Those most likely to have a retinal detachment include those who:
- Are over age 50
- Have suffered a previous retinal detachment
- Have a family history of retinal detachment
- Are extremely myopic (nearsighted)
- Have had previous eye surgery
- Have suffered a severe head or eye injury
- Suffer from advanced diabetes
- Have had or currently have another eye disease, especially posterior vitreous detachment, lattice degeneration, x-linked retinoschisis, degenerative myopia, and uveitis
What to Do
Patients with symptoms of retinal detachment are strongly advised to seek immediate treatment. Failure to do so can allow the retina to be further torn or damaged. If it becomes completely detached and loses its nutritional blood supply, it will lose its vitality, rendering it nonfunctional. This will result in total and permanent blindness in the affected eye.
If you believe you might have a retinal detachment, contact our ophthalmology practice online, give us a call at (310) 289-3666, or report to your nearest emergency room. And if you want to learn more about any of the other eye conditions we treat, we want to hear from you. We have several convenient locations that serve a dozen or more area communities, and we are happy to assist you in any way possible.