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Retinal Detachment: Causes, Signs, and Emergency Treatment

The human eye is an intricate and delicate organ, allowing us to perceive the world around us in vivid detail. However, certain conditions can jeopardize this gift of vision. Located at the back of the eye, the retina has a single important purpose-to convert light captured by the eye into electronic signals for the brain to process. In simple terms, without it, you cannot see. A retinal detachment occurs when the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye pulls away from its normal position. Although a retinal detachment in a normal, healthy eye is rare, understanding the causes, recognizing the signs and seeking prompt emergency treatment are crucial to preserving vision and preventing irreversible damage.

Retinal detachment can be caused by a variety of factors, namely age-related changes in the eye, trauma or injury, severe nearsightedness, family history, and a previous eye injury or surgery. As we age, our eyes undergo natural transformations. The vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills the eye, tends to shrink and become more liquid over time. This age-related change can lead to the vitreous pulling away from the retina, creating a risk for detachment. Physical trauma or injury to the eye or head can be a significant catalyst for retinal detachment. Individuals with severe nearsightedness face an increased risk of retinal detachment. Myopia can cause the eyeball to elongate, making the retina more prone to separation from its underlying layers. Genetics can play a role in the susceptibility to retinal detachment. Individuals with a family history of retinal issues may be genetically predisposed to the condition, making regular eye check-ups essential for early detection. In addition to previous eye trauma or surgery, inflammatory diseases and lattice degeneration heighten the risk for retinal detachment. 

Recognizing the signs of retinal detachment is essential for early detection. These warning signs indicate the need for immediate, successful treatment to maintain and protect vision quality. One of the earliest signs of retinal detachment is the sudden appearance of floaters, the tiny specks or spots that seem to float in the field of vision. These floaters are caused by bits of vitreous in the eye casting shadows on the retina as it pulls away. Flashes of light, described as the flash of a camera or peripheral views of lightning or fireworks, are another common sign of retinal detachment. These flashes occur as the retina is stimulated by the movement of the detached vitreous gel. While many eye conditions pose the same symptoms, a shadow or curtain descending over your field of vision is a classic symptom of retinal detachment. This occurs when the detached portion of the retina obstructs the incoming light, creating a shadow-like effect. Visual distortions such as straight lines that appear wavy as well as blurred or diminished vision are consequences of the uneven pulling of the retina. Sudden eye pain or increased redness could also indicate inflammation causing a detachment. 
If you suspect retinal detachment or experience any of the symptoms, seeking immediate medical attention is vital. Emergency treatment typically involves surgery in the form of a vitrectomy, pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckle, cryopexy or laser treatment. For more information, contact Skyline Vision Clinic at 719-630-3937 or WEBSITE.