If you imagine that your eye is like a camera, then the retina is the film. When rays of light enter the eye and are focused on the retina by the cornea and lens, the retina reacts. However, just like a picture cannot be developed if the camera has defective film, vision is not possible in an eye with a defective retina.
It is the retina, cornea as well as other eye parts that work with the brain to produce vision. An unhealthy eye condition could disrupt vision immediately if there happens to be a hindrance in the smooth functioning of any of the parts. This blog specifically covers Retinal Detachment.
The condition begins with a retinal tear that is considered quite serious because the vitreous liquid leaks through the tear, and pools under the retina. Gradually, the build up of liquid separates the retina from the wall of the eye, a condition called a Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment (a retinal detachment associated with a hole or break in the retina). Similar to piece of wallpaper that comes off a wall and folds itself, so does the retinal tissue resulting in loss of vision.
Torn retina and detached retina are experienced through painless symptoms:
• New Floaters: The presence of some floaters is common because the vitreous is not completely transparent or uniform in consistency. However, a sudden increase in the number and size of floaters perceived in your vision is a warning sign that a retinal tear could be in progress.
• Flashes: The sudden appearance of flashes in vision may indicate that the vitreous material is pulling away from or tugging on the retina, which could be the first stage of a retinal tear or detachment.
• Shadow or curtain over vision: The onset of a growing, dark shadow or the appearance of a curtain being pulled over a portion of the vision in one eye is an indication of a retinal detachment. These symptoms usually occur in the peripheral (side) vision. The growing shadow results from the increasing area of retinal tissue being pulled away from the back wall of the eye and no longer able to react to light.
• Decreased vision: Another common symptom of a retinal tear or detachment is a sudden decrease in vision.
Experiencing flashes or floaters is not seen as an unusual phenomenon however, if they show signs of getting worse and one is losing vision, it is essential to get one’s eyes checked as well as a recommendation for the appropriate treatment.
In the armamentarium of eye specialists, types of retinal detachment surgeries exist to cure the different cases of retinal tear and detachment.
Retinal surgery offers hope and the chances of successfully restoring vision are dramatically improved when intervention occurs as soon as possible following the onset of symptoms. Very small detachments of the retina can be surrounded by laser treatment, just like retinal tears, to help limit their spread. Large retinal detachments, however, need to be repaired surgically. The two major surgical treatments for retinal detachment are scleral buckling - where a sponge or length of silicon plastic is placed on the outside of the eye and sewn in place (the scleral buckle is very small and not visible after surgery), pushing the sclera toward the tear in the retina - and pneumatic retinopexy, a less severe treatment where the surgeon injects a gas bubble inside the vitreous cavity. The bubble pushes the retina against the wall of the eye, allowing the tear to seal against the eye wall.