Retinal Detachment

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Retinal detachment is a medical condition in which the thin layer at the back of the eye or retina loosens. This condition needs to be treated immediately before it becomes a permanent condition and causes vision impairment.

When a person has retinal detachment, the retinal cells in the eye are separated from the lining of blood vessels that provide oxygen and that are a source of nutrition to the eye. The longer the retinal detachment remains untreated, the more likely it is to develop into an incurable disease.

Retinal detachment can be detected through particular symptoms that indicate a dangerous condition. These symptoms include the sudden appearance of flash on vision and reduced vision ability. 

Causes of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the lining of the retina detaches from the lining of blood vessels. This condition is triggered by changes in the jelly in the eyes that occur with age. This condition is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

The PVD condition is more likely to occur to people with risk factors such as: 

  • Being farsighted.
  • Have an eye injury.
  • Have had eye surgery.
  • Have a family history of retinal detachment.

There are several types of retinal detachments based on different causes. The types of retinal detachments consist of:

  • Rhegmatogenous, the most common type of retinal detachment. This retinal detachment occurs because of a hole or tear in the retina that makes fluid accumulate under the retina and keeps the retina away from the underlying tissue.
  • Tractional, a type of retinal detachment caused by the development of scar tissue on the surface of the retina, causing the retina to move away from the back of the eye.
  • Exudative, a condition in which fluid accumulates under the retina, but is not caused by injury or tear. This usually occurs due to age-related macular degeneration, tumors, or infections.

When to See a Doctor for Retinal Detachment?

The condition of retinal detachment should be consulted with an ophthalmologist. To confirm the condition of the patient’s retinal detachment, the ophthalmologist will perform a series of eye tests.

The test is carried out by applying eye drops that can dilate the size of the pupil of the eye. The doctor will use a special instrument to look inside the pupil and check if the retina is detached.

There are other additional tests in case the eye drops do not work.They consist of:

  • Retina examination. Using a bright light and a special lens to examine the back of the eye, including the retina.
  • Ultrasound imaging test. Performed when a patient has bleeding in the eye, making it difficult for the doctor to see the back of the eye.

The test will be carried out in both eyes, even when the patient only feels symptoms in one eye. If the doctor does not detect a tear on the first test, the patient may be asked to do another test after a few weeks. This is done to ensure that no symptoms of retinal detachment have developed.

The tests are required to be done immediately if the patient feels the symptoms of retinal detachment. The sooner a retinal detachment is detected, the faster the treatment will be determined. A retinal detachment that is left untreated for too long may potentially cause irreversible damage.

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment

Since the symptoms of retinal detachment are painless, people will find out about the condition late. However, there are some particular symptoms to watch out for:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes.
  • Gradually reduced side vision
  • A curtain-like shadow over your visual field
  • Sudden appearance of many floaters, tiny specks that seem to drift through your field of vision

Treatment for Retinal Detachment

If the retina has begun to detach or has experienced a tear, the patient will be advised to immediately undergo surgery. There are also other medical procedures that can be done to treat patients with retinal detachments:

  • Laser surgery or freezing. This method can repair the retinal tear when it is detected at an early stage or before the tear gets worse and gets bigger.
  • Pneumatic retinopexy, a procedure for injecting gas bubbles into the vitreous, which is a gel-like substance between the lens and retina. This method can help close small tears.
  • Scleral buckle. Surgery involves sewing a circle of a silicone band around the white of the eye and pushing it toward the tear until it heals. This bracelet is invisible and permanently attached.

For a large retinal tear, the doctor may recommend vitrectomy surgery. In this procedure, the doctor will remove the vitreous and replace it with a saline solution.

Generally, patients need 2 to 6 weeks to recover after surgery. During this time, the patient may experience:

  • Blurred vision
  • Not allowed to do drive
  • Not allowed to board flights.
  • Swollen and red eyes (can be treated with paracetamol).
  • Not allowed to work or do strenuous activities for some time

However, people with mild cases of retinal detachment will have a shorter recovery period. In some cases, patients can immediately return to normal activities a few days after undergoing surgery.

Treatment Cost for Retinal Detachment

The cost for retinal detachment treatment varies, depending on the symptoms, the condition of the retinal tear, the severity of the symptoms, and the treatment method used.

For more information on the estimated cost of retinal detachment treatment, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Retinal Detachment

The primary preventive measure to deal with retinal detachment is by having regular eye tests with an ophthalmologist. Routine checkups allow the doctor to detect symptoms of retinal detachment immediately. This can help doctors determine what treatment suits the patient.

When you feel like there are flashes or white spots in your eyes, you should consult a doctor immediately. These symptoms do not always indicate retinal detachment, but they can be a consideration for you to check your eyes. 

Eye tests should be done at least once a year. For people with diabetes and high blood pressure, it is better to perform eye tests more than once, for example once every 3 to 4 months.

People who have diabetes and high blood pressure are encouraged to keep their sugar levels and blood pressure normal. This is to keep the blood vessels around the retina healthy and clean.

Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Retinal Detachment

Patients diagnosed with retinal detachment should prioritize maintaining eye health and hygiene. After undergoing surgery, patients should avoid working or driving for a few days. The patient will also be asked not to fly until the doctor confirms that the patient’s eye has fully recovered.

It is strongly advised to rest at home after surgery. Make sure you use an eye patch if you want to exercise.

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