What You Need to Know About Retinal Detachment

retinal detachmentWhen it comes to protecting your eye health, you are the first line of defense in recognizing there is a problem.  When it comes to retinal detachment, it’s important for individuals to be alert to the warning signs of this dangerous eye condition.  Retinal detachment, left untreated can lead to blindness so it is important to know about its symptoms.

So what exactly are these warning signs?

  • The appearance of flashing lights within the field of vision
  • The appearance of multiple floating objects within the field of vision
  • A gray curtain moving along the field of vision

These are the most common symptoms of retinal detachment, however, some of these symptoms may also represent a less dangerous early warning sign of retinal detachment known as a vitreous detachment. The symptoms may also represent a precursor to retinal detachment known as a retinal tear.  If you encounter any of these symptoms, it’s important to see an ophthalmologist right away within 24 hours.

So why does retinal detachment occur?  As we get older, the clear gel-like substance that makes up the inner part of our eyes (vitreous gel) shrinks slightly, which makes the substance take on a more watery appearance.  If the vitreous gel shrinks enough, it exerts force on the retina, resulting in damage and tearing.

Once the retina is torn, this makes it easier for the fluid to leak into the retina, thus lifting the retina off the back of the eye.  Think of it like a peeling wallpaper, where the wallpaper is slowly detached from the wall itself.

When the retina tears off the back of the eye, it’s possible for your ophthalmologist to use laser surgery to reattach the retina and seal off the tears before any additional damage occurs.  If, however, a full-blown retinal detachment has occurred, surgery is usually required to repair it involving the following methods:

  • Pneumatic retinoplexy, which involves injecting a special gas bubble that pushes the retina back onto the eye followed by laser to hold the retina in place
  • Scleral buckle procedure, which involves draining the fluid under the retina and sewing a piece of silicone on the outer eye wall, usually in conjunction with laser or cold cryotherapy.
  • Vitrectomy surgery, which removes the gel from the eye and replaces it with a gas bubble and laser to treat the break.

If you’re suffering from any symptoms of retinal detachment, make an appointment to visit Dr. Griffiths at NewView Eye Center in Reston, Virginia today. We serve all of Northern Virginia and we’re just a short drive from the Dulles Airport,  Herndon VA, and Washington DC.