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Retinal detachment is a serious eye condition that occurs when the retina is separated from its normal position at the back of the eye. When the retina detaches, vision becomes blurry and shadowy. Unless the retina is quickly reattached, permanent vision loss can occur.
What is a detached retina?
The retina is the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye that functions much like film in a camera. The retina receives visual images then "develops" them and sends them to the brain. Retinal detachment occurs when the retina is separated from the underlying tissue of the eye. Detachment is usually caused by a tear or break in the retina. This is a serious problem that can cause blindness unless it is treated quickly.
Symptoms of a detached retina
Flashes, floaters, and spots are the initial symptoms of a detached retina or a retinal tear. Vision will become blurry and it may look like a shadow is moving across the field of vision. These symptoms may be gradual, which would indicate that the retina is starting to pull away from supportive tissue, or they can be sudden, which would indicate complete retinal detachment.
Retinal detachment is not painful. If you experience the symptoms mentioned above, make sure to see an eye doctor immediately.
Causes of a detached retina
Retinal detachment can occur at any age, but it is more common in midlife. People with high levels of nearsightedness face a greater risk of retinal detachment because their retinas are thinner. Diseases such as diabetic retinopathy can lead to retinal detachment, as can cataract surgery and LASIK. Any condition or injury that weakens the retina can lead to detachment.
Treatment of a detached retina
Detached retinas must be reattached as soon as possible. There are several ways to fix a detached retina, including:
In each of these methods, the eye surgeon locates any retinal tears and uses laser surgery or cryotherapy to seal the tear.
The sooner retinal detachment is treated, the more likely it is that vision will return, so be sure to visit your eye doctor as soon as symptoms develop.