Retinal detachment is a serious medical emergency that can result in full and permanent vision loss in the affected eye if left untreated.
This happens when the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye, separates from its original position. This can happen without warning, can lead to a sudden loss of vision in your eye, and is difficult to prevent. However, there are some precautions you can take and some symptoms to look out for.
Types of Retinal Detachment
A Retinal Detachment can be classified in 3 different categories:
Rhegmatogenous: This type of retinal detachment occurs when you have a tear in your retina. This is the most common form of retinal detachment and generally is caused by the natural aging process. As we age, the gel-like fluid (vitreous) within our eye can decrease causing it to pull on your retina which can eventually cause it to tear. When the retina tears, that fluid can begin to leak through, making its way behind the retina, thus forcing the retina to detach from the inner back of the eyeball.
Tractional: Tractional retinal detachment is often caused by diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your high blood sugar can cause the blood vessels in your eye to become damaged and cause scarring of your retina. If the scar eventually becomes larger, it can gradually pull at the retina and cause it to detach from the back of the eyeball.
Exudative: This type of retinal detachment occurs without any retinal tears or scars from fluid building up and becoming trapped behind the retina. As the fluid builds up, it forces the retina out of position, eventually causing it to detach. This category of detachment is often caused by swelling in the back of the eye or leaking blood vessels, which can be caused by injury, an eye tumor, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and inflammation.
Risk Factors for Retinal Detachment
Some people are at a higher risk to experience retinal detachment. Knowing these factors and recognizing your potential risk means you’ll be more likely to recognize the symptoms and get in touch with a retina specialist sooner rather than later. These risk factors include:
Family history of retinal detachments
History of previous retinal detachment
History of severe eye injury
History of eye surgery
Other eye conditions, such as uveitis
Being over 50
Recognizing the Signs of Retinal Detachment
Although this is something that can happen very suddenly, there are also warning signs. Keep an eye out for new or worsening symptoms such as:
A sudden surge in new eye floaters in your vision
A veil of darkness over your vision
If you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above it is important you reach out to your ophthalmologist or get in touch with a retina specialist, especially if you have one or more risk factors for retinal detachment. The longer you wait, the more severe your situation can grow.
To learn more about retinal detachments and retinal health, follow our social media or get in contact with Retina Health Institute!