If you suddenly notice spots, floaters and flashes of light, you may be experiencing the warning signs of a retinal detachment. You may also notice the appearance of a shadow or a curtain coming down from the top of your eye or from the side. These signs may occur slowly or all of a sudden. A retinal detachment is a serious and sight-threatening event, and must be addressed as soon as possible for the best chance of restoring lost vision.
An injury to the eye or face can cause a retinal detachment, although it may occur with no apparent cause. Nearsighted people are at more risk for this condition because their eyes tend to be longer and the retina thinner, making the retina more likely to detach. Tumors, eye disease and systemic diseases such as diabetes and sickle cell disease may also contribute to their occurrence. Sometimes fluid movement within the eye pulls the retina away.
The sooner an eye surgeon repairs a retinal detachment, the better the chance of regaining lost vision. Laser photocoagulation can repair small detachments or tears. Some ophthalmologists inject a gas bubble into the vitreous humor, a jellylike substance that fills the space in front of the retina. The gas bubble expands and presses the retina back onto the inner lining of the eye until it can heal and reattach. Cryotherapy (freezing) or laser treatment assist in this process. Occasionally the retina will tear or develop holes which do not necessarily need to be treated immediately. Your ophthalmologist will monitor these conditions and advise you as to the safest course of action.For More information on retinal detachment, visit EyeSmart