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Home » Eye Library » Conditions » Retinal Detachment

Retinal Detachment

A retinal detachment is a serious eye emergency in which the retina (the lining of the back of the eye) becomes separated and pulls away from the surrounding tissue. When the retina is out of place, the eye cannot properly process incoming light and if not fixed quickly, permanent vision loss can result.

The retina contains the light sensitive cells of the eye that convert light into neural impulses that communicate with the optic nerve and the brain, enabling visual processing. When the retinal cells become detached from the supportive tissue they no longer get the nourishment and support they need to function and in a relatively short period of time can suffer permanent damage.

Signs and Symptoms

A retinal detachment doesn’t hurt and can happen very suddenly with little warning. Signs that you may be experiencing this condition include sudden onset of floaters, spots, or flashes of light in the visual field. These symptoms may be accompanied by blurred vision, reduced peripheral or side vision and the sensation that there is a curtain coming down over your visual field from the top or side.

Causes and Risk Factors

Retinal detachment can be caused by an injury to the eye or face, as a result of diabetic retinopathy or very high nearsightedness (in which the retina is thinner than in normal eyes). It can also result from changes in the vitreous of the eye due to aging, eye or other systemic diseases or following an eye surgery.

Factors that put you at risk increased include:

  • Age- a retinal detachment is more common in adults 50 and over
  • Diabetes or Sickle Cell
  • Extreme nearsightedness
  • Eye surgery (such as cataract removal)
  • Eye or face injury
  • Family history
  • Eye disease or inflammation

Treatment for Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can be treated by a number of surgical procedures, the type of surgery depending upon the type and severity of the detachment. These procedures include:

Pneumatic retinopexy: In this procedure the doctor injects gas or silicone oil into the eye to push the retina back into place. This is usually done when the detachment is just started and is very mild in nature. The surgeon may then need to use other procedures to secure the retina into place such as photocoagulation which is a laser procedure or cryopexy which uses a frozen probe to reattach the tissue. While the gas will absorb into the body, the oil needs to be removed following the procedure.

Scleral buckling: This procedure involves indenting the outer surface of the eye toward the retina by attaching a soft piece of silicone around the sclera or white part of the eye. If necessary, this allows the surgeon to drain the fluids that have accumulated between the retina and the supportive tissue and then the retina is reattached using laser photocoagulation or cryopexy.

Vitrectomy: In this procedure the doctor removes the vitreous fluid in your eye which is the gel-like substance that may be causing the retina to detach. The retina can then be flattened using air, gas or oil. This procedure is often combined with scleral buckling as mentioned above.

Successful treatment for retinal detachment depends on a lot of factors including the severity of the detachment, the location and how quickly it was diagnosed and treated. Sometimes full vision is not restored. If you have risk factors for retinal detachment you should make sure that you get frequent eye exams and see your eye doctor immediately if you experience any changes in your vision.

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Updated Covid-19 Policies as of 05/21/2021

As COVID-19 information continues to change through updates from the CDC and the State of Washington Health Department, we feel a need to maintain a safety structure for those patients who have not been vaccinated as well as those that have. Because we are a medical office, we feel there is a strong need to ensure that everyone feels safe in this environment.

In an effort to maintain social distancing and patient safety, we ask the following:

*Please do not bring any family or friends with you during your appointment.

*If you need a driver, we ask that they wait in your vehicle or enjoy downtown shopping.

*For pediatric exams, we ask only one parent to come with the child or children if scheduled at similar times.

*Please advise us of any schedule changes as soon as possible. If you need to cancel, please do so with 24 business hours.

*Optos retinal scans are highly recommended at this time. This allows us to evaluate your ocular health with more distance. Dilation drops may not be needed at your visit when using this technology. Please consider this elective service for your next comprehensive exam.

*Eyewear visits in the optical department are currently by appointment only. This is to maintain distance and allow for proper cleaning between patients. Our skilled opticians will bring you eyewear to fit your style, desires and needs. We ask that you do not browse on your own.

*Feel comfortable trying on the frames the opticians bring you as each frame has been thoroughly cleaned.

*Safety comes first! Patients and staff will be required to wear masks. Screening for illness including temperature checks and verbal health questions will be maintained at this time.

*Appointed times keep us on schedule. Please fill out your paperwork online with the assistance of IntakeQ prior to your visit. Call us when you are at the door and we can get started!

Our mission at Edmonds Vision Center is to provide the highest standard of care to individuals of all ages, with the latest technology and outstanding customer service. You and your entire family are welcome at Edmonds Vision Center. We value your eye health!