Detached Retina Symptoms

If you think you are experiencing signs of detached retina, you may need to see an eye doctor right away. The retina needs immediate repair to prevent vision loss. It is a membrane in the back of the eye that takes in light and sends a signal to your brain to process the images that you see. It combines the actions of the lens, the cornea, and the optic nerve to give you your vision.

If the retina becomes damaged, light will not be able to get through to the optic nerve and the brain. During a retinal detachment, the tissue becomes separated from the blood vessels that give it oxygen and nutrients. The retina needs oxygen and blood flow to work correctly and the tissue could die off quickly. So, the longer you wait the worse the outcome may be.

Detached Retina Symptoms

Knowing the symptoms of detached retina will help you know if you should seek medical attention. The faster you get help and treat a detached retina, the lower your risk of permanent vision loss.

A detached retina can occur due to trauma to the head, face, or eye area, advanced diabetic eye disease, or when the sac of vitreous fluid around the eye begins to sag. When one of these occurs, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Vision Blurring - You may notice your vision become suddenly blurred in only one eye. This can also come on slowly, hours after the event. You may go to bed one night with clear vision and wake up with blurred vision the next day.
  • Vision Loss - This may occur as “central vision loss,” or just a partial loss of vision. While you can see fine out of one eye, the affected eye may seem like there is a veil or curtain over it.
  • Light Flashes - This is also known as photopsia. You may notice flashes of light off to the side of your eyes, or in your peripheral vision while the center of your vision remains normal.
  • Eye Floaters - Everyone sees an eye floater or two once in a while. If you notice a dramatic increase in the amount of eye floaters then you may have a problem with your retina. These usually appear as string-like substances floating in your eye or even black spots.
  • Floating Rings - Detached retina symptoms include floating rings. You may notice a “halo” type floating ring up near your temporal area of vision. It may appear as a black ring or ring of hairs.
  • Lines Curve - Lines that should be straight now appear curved. You may look at a doorway, a street, or window and they seem to bow out or bend.
  • Grey Veil - It may seem as if someone pulled a grey veil down over your eyes. Everything may appear to be dim or undefined. Where you once could make out signs, labels, or other objects clearly they now don’t have the same clarity.
  • Shadows - You may notice a dark shadow just outside your central vision in the peripheral vision area. It slowly begins to move toward the center of your vision from the outside in.

How Can It Be Treated?

A retinal detachment must be treated as soon as possible after an event happens and symptoms appear. The retina will need to be reattached and that usually requires surgical intervention. Treatment will close up and repair the retina and the vitreous sac that contains fluid. This will keep the fluids from leaking out and stops the retina from completely tearing free.

Most procedures can be done in your eye doctor’s office under a local anesthetic. The procedures to treat detached retina symptoms include:

1.    Laser Surgery

Your doctor will give you a local anesthetic and use a laser to seal up the detached area. It will cause a scar around the area that helps keep things sealed up and prevent leaking or a complete detachment.

2.    Freezing

The doctor may freeze the area where the detachment occurred. This will also cause scar tissue that seals up the tear.

3.    Scleral Buckle

The doctor places a band around the sclera of the eye. This holds the retina in place until healing occurs. The doctor also drains any fluid so the retina can return to position. This procedure is a surgery and needs to be done in the hospital.

4.    Vitrectomy

This is a type of eye surgery that is done in the hospital. Here the doctor drains the vitreous fluid and fills the space with a bubble of air or gas. The body will rebuild the natural vitreous fluid over time. They may place a scleral buckle to keep the retina in place during healing. You will be told to refrain from high altitudes during healing to keep eye pressure at a constant level.

Can You Prevent It?

If you have a health condition that can result in retinal detachment, you should get the recommended eye check-ups as advised by your doctor. This is especially important for diabetics. The eye doctor can monitor your retina to make sure there are no issues.

If you are at risk for injury to either one of your eyes, you should take steps to protect them during work or sports to prevent detached retina symptoms.

  • Use sports or safety glasses during contact sports or working with tools
  • Wear a helmet during contact sports to prevent blows to the head
  • Use safety goggles when shooting a gun or playing with fireworks
  • Diabetics need to work diligently to keep blood sugar in range
  • Always wear your seatbelt when driving and make sure you have a properly adjusted headrest
  • Call your eye doctor at once if you experience an increase in eye floaters or visual changes
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