Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is quite a common condition. Some 50 years ago, this disease was untreatable and patients would remain blind. The treatment started with modest vitreoretinal surgical techniques. Now more than 90% of retinas that are detached can be reattached.

What is retina?

Retina is the innermost and the most important layer of the eye. It is similar to the film of a camera. lt converts light into images for the brain to see. It is loosely glued to the wall of the eye. It is entirely made of nerve tissue and can be seen “as an extension of the brain”.

What is retinal detachment?

When the glue weakens, the retina separates from the wall of the eye. The retina then does not work and the vision falls. It is a very serious problem which, almost always, causes blindness, if untreated. Early treatment has a better outcome.

How does it occur?

Most of the times it occurs due to holes, tears, breaks or degenerations in the retina, but all do not lead to detachment. Some occur due to inflammations, diabetes, tumors or other diseases. Vitreous gel, which fills the inner part of the eye then seeps through these holes and lifts the retina causing detachment.

who are at higher risk?

People who suffer from:

  • Myopia(nearsightedness, minus spectacles)-usually high myopia
  • Previous cataract surgery
  • Previous retinal detachment in other eye
  • Family history of retinal detachment
  • Severe injury
  • Weak areas in the retina
  • 1 in 10,000 people are likely to get it

What are the symptoms?

  • Flashes of light- usually white light like lightening
  • Floaters (black spots) in front of eyes that appear suddenly and in high quantity
  • Shadow moving across the eye
  • Sudden drop or crooked vision
  • These symptoms are never painful

How is it diagnosed?

Your ophthalmologist does a detailed examination of the retina with dilated pupils. Someare diagnosed on routine examination.
Occasionally, an ultra-sonography ofthe eye may be necessary.

What is the treatment?

Treatment for retinal holes & breaks.
Laser or Cryotherapy is done to the affected part of the retina. It is an OPD procedure needing only few minutes and causes little or no discomfort. In some cases no treatment is done but regular follow up is necessary. This treatment usually prevents detachment.

Treatment of retinal detachment

Surgery is needed in most cases. Detached macula (vital part of Retina) is devoid of nutrients (blood supply) affecting vision permanently hence surgery should be done IMMEDIATELY. In simple detachments, scleral buckling surgery is done, in which a silicon buckle (belt) and Cryotherapy is used which works well in 90-95% of cases. In complicated detachments or re-detachments advanced techniques like vitrectomy, specialized gases, laser, siliconeoiletc. may be needed.

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