The retina is a structure that sits at the back of the eye. The layers of cells that make up the retina are ultra-thin and sensitive to light. This light sensitivity is what allows the retina to record the various wavelengths that enter the eye and use the optic nerve to send electrical signals to the brain. The signals transmitted through the optic nerve are translated into visual images. This is the process of sight. It is a process that directly involves the retina and one that indicates just how crucial it is to keep this part of the eye healthy and functional.
Retinal detachment is a relatively rare event that occurs when the retinal membrane loosens from its foundation on the back of the eye. Here, we discuss the symptoms, causes, and contributing factors of a detached retina.
Symptoms of Retinal Detachment
Contrary to what one may expect, a detached retina is not a painful event. Because there is no discomfort to warn of detachment, it is vital to recognize other symptoms. As the retina comes loose from the back of the eye, flashes of light, floaters, specks, and spots may suddenly appear in the field of vision. Shadowing and blurriness may also occur. Any one of these symptoms warrants prompt medical attention.
Retinal Detachment Causes
Cases of retinal detachment usually result from one of three common underlying problems.
- Tractional detachment occurs when scar tissue on the retinal surface creates a pulling effect that loosens the retina from the wall of the eye.
- Exudative detachment is a condition in which the retina itself is in good condition, but fluid has built up beneath it as a result of inflammation or injury.
- Rhegmatogenous detachment occurs when fluid builds up beneath the retina due to a hole or tear in its structure.
Contributing Factors in Retinal Detachment
There are no telltale indicators that any person will suffer retinal detachment. However, specific contributing factors have been noted for increasing risk. When more than one contributing factor is present, routine retinal evaluation becomes even more critical to long-term health and wellness. People with more than one of the following may also want to have a plan in place to obtain prompt emergency services from a retinal specialist.
- Over 50 years of age.
- A family history of retinal detachment.
- Previous retinal detachment.
- Previous eye surgery.
- Severe eye or head injury.
- Advanced diabetes.
- Extreme nearsightedness.
What to Do About Retinal Detachment
A detached retina can be repaired so long as it remains somewhat intact. This is why immediate medical care is necessary in the event of sudden-onset symptoms. If the retina detaches completely, the thin tissue becomes non-viable and permanent blindness will occur in that eye.