While we rely on proper ocular function for eyesight, very few people become well acquainted with the structures involved in the transportation of light from the front to the back of the eye. In most cases, there is no reason to learn about the intricate nature of the eyeball itself. When a degree of familiarity does come into play is when something goes wrong. Fortunately, if and when that point comes, you can rely on the training and experience of our team of retinal specialists.
Vitreo Retinal Surgery proudly serves patients from areas including Plymouth, St. Paul, Minnesota, Edina, and more. Here, we want to discuss how retinal tears and detachment are related, and when you need to schedule a retinal exam with us.
Important Ocular Structure
The retina sits at the back of the eye and appears as a delicate lining of tissue. A cavity is positioned just in front of the retina and is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that contains aqueous fluid, collagen fibrils, and macromolecules. As we age, the semi-stable consistency of the vitreous morphs into a water-like fluid. This transition is believed to occur in all adults at some point. As it does, the risk for separation, referred to as posterior vitreous separation, increases.
About Retinal Tears
The brain naturally wants to connect the dots between cause and effect. Regarding retinal detachment, there is more than one factor to consider. In some cases, we see retinal tears occur after a direct eye injury. However, posterior vitreous separation, as benign as it is on its own, may be the catalyst for a tear in retinal tissue if the pull on this fragile lining becomes too great. Bottom line, trauma does not have to occur to experience a retinal tear.
About Retinal Detachment
Most cases of retinal detachment are preceded by a retinal tear. Therefore, it is ideal to obtain professional care from a retinal specialist if you experience the sudden onset of floaters or flashes, or if your vision becomes darkened in general. Detachment occurs when fluid from the eye seeps through the tear in the lining, creating space between the retina and the wall of the back of the eye. Retinal detachment presents the risk of vision loss and needs to be treated quickly to reduce this risk.
Treating Retinal Tears and Detachment
Treatment for retinal tears and detachment may begin with the evaluation of posterior vitreous separation. Observing the back of the eye, we can determine if a tear has occurred, and how best to treat that condition. Tears are often treated with laser, but may also be treated with cryotherapy. Retinal detachment often requires surgery but may involve an in-office procedure if the extent of separation is not severe.
There is no need for retinal detachment to be a medical emergency. When floaters and flashes are evaluated early, there is a greater chance for conservative treatment.