Retinal detachment: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Retinal detachment: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Retinal detachment is the separation of the retina from the underside that supports it. The photoreceptors and the network of nerves that make up the part of the light-sensitive retina form a thin film that is normally attached to the tissue that supports it below. The detachment can begin in a small area, but if left untreated, the entire retina can detach. 

Visual symptoms suspected of retinal detachment usually appear successively:

  • Impression of flying flies (black dots that move when moving the eye) or perception of a ring, which translate the vitreous modifications.
  • Light flashes: It is a symptom of greater importance than the previous one. It translates the existence of tractions on the retina and often appears when a tear has already occurred.
  • When a retinal detachment already exists, the patient can perceive as a black curtain that falls through some area of ​​the visual field. Given this, the consultation with an ophthalmologist should be immediate.
  • If the central area of ​​the retina (macula) is damaged, distortion may initially appear in the images and subsequently a significant decrease in visual acuity occurs.

The retinal detachment affects about one in 10,000 people per year, approximately and constitutes urgency in the treatment since if it is not treated in time it can leave an irreversible visual sequel. 

It is a serious visual problem that can occur at any age, although it usually occurs in middle-aged individuals or in the elderly. It is usually more frequent in people who are nearsighted or in those who have previously had a retinal disorder.

The risk of retinal detachment increases after age 40, as the retina becomes thinner with age.

Diabetes, injuries (such as a blow to the eye), cataract surgery and family history can also cause retinal detachment.

If left untreated, retinal detachment leads to total functional loss of the eye (blindness). If left untreated, retinal detachment, initially located around the tear, tends to progress toward the posterior retina, determining a decrease in visual acuity; and if the evolution continues, the retinal detachment will be total.

Wear protective glasses to prevent trauma to the eyes and monitor your blood glucose carefully if you have diabetes. Visit the ophthalmologist once a year.  Be alert to the symptoms of new light flashes and flying flies.

To establish the diagnosis, an eye examination is necessary which must be performed by an ophthalmologist, to analyze the internal structures of the eye and determine if retinal detachment is present. In that case, the retinal detachment treatment is recommended.

Preventive or prophylactic treatment is aimed at the control of all those injuries or tears that can lead to a detached retina. Among the possible preventive treatments we highlight cryotherapy and laser photocoagulation.

Photocoagulation consists in giving a series of laser impacts in all lesions that may predispose a retinal detachment. The laser will seal the retina in those areas where it is weakened creating strong adhesion between the retinal layers.

Cryotherapy is also intended to seal existing lesions but is performed by applying a cold probe to the outer wall of the eyeball.