Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Retinal Detachment

Symptoms of retinal detachment may include the presence of increased eye floaters, light flashes (especially in peripheral vision), blurred vision, a veil or curtain blocking your vision, or a sudden dramatic decrease of vision. Patients with these symptoms should contact their eye doctor immediately and be seen for an exam the same day if possible. This type of eye problem is considered an emergency. Therefore, treatment from an eye doctor should not be delayed. The sooner a retinal detachment is diagnosed, the better the chances of saving vision.

Retinal detachment can occur for various reasons. The most common cause is a blunt or penetrating injury to the eye. However, sometimes a retina detaches on its own without an underlying cause. Additional causes of retinal detachment may include:
  • Spontaneously (perhaps due to an underlying anatomic abnormality)
  • Posterior vitreous detachment  
  • Complication of cataract surgery
  • Extreme nearsightedness
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory disorder

Anyone can be at risk for retinal detachment since the most common cause is blunt or penetrating injury to the eye, which can occur in a variety of ways ranging from being poked in the eye with a finger or pen to being injured during an athletic event. Certain factors can increase your risk of developing retinal detachment, such as:

  • Age (24-45 years old)
  • Gender (males more common than females)
  • Trauma
  • Family history of detached retina
  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinal detachment in other eye
  • History of any intraocular surgery
  • Aphakia (absence of lens) or Pseudophakia (artificial implant after cataract surgery)
  • Connective tissue disorders such as Wagner’s disease
  • Sickle cell retinopathy
  • Severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
Fortunately, over 90% of people who experience a detached retina are treated successfully. On occasion a second treatment is needed. However, it may take several months after the initial treatment to determine whether a second treatment is required. Since the most common cause of retinal detachment is injury to the eye, it is important to wear protective eyewear during all activities. If you participate in high impact sports such as football or hockey, make sure you wear a face mask that completely covers your eyes. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels. If you are at risk for retinal detachment, avoid risk factors if possible. Always see your eye doctor at least once a year or as often as they recommend, especially if you are at risk for retinal detachment.