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Retinal Detachment Explained

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The retina is located at the back of your eye and performs a vital role that allows you to see clear, crisp images. The retina receives images in the form of light entering the iris at the front of your eye and sends them to your brain for processing. When the retina is damaged, your vision will be impaired to some degree. Retinal detachment can be complete or partial, and it's not always possible to determine what has caused the detachment. However, trauma and changes to the proteins in your eyes that occur as a normal part of the aging process can increase your risk of retinal detachment. Additionally, poorly controlled blood glucose levels in those with type 2 diabetes can damage the blood vessels at the back of your eyes and lead to retinal detachment. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for this condition:


Retinal detachment does not cause eye pain, but there are some early symptoms that are associated with this eye condition. Partial or complete retinal detachment can cause blurred vision, a reduction in your peripheral vision and intermittent or constant flashes and floaters in your field of vision. Additionally, your ability to see distant objects may deteriorate.

Diagnosis And Treatment Approach

Your optometrist can diagnose retinal detachment with a standard eye test. They will use an ophthalmoscope, which is a powerful handheld magnifier, to view your retina in detail. They can also measure eye pressure using tonometry, which involves blowing controlled puffs of air into the front of your eye. Your eye's response is recorded, and if a tonometry test indicates you have a high degree of pressure in your eye, it's a good indication that there's inflammation within your eye.

Retinal detachment requires surgical repair to prevent permanent damage to your vision. Your eye surgeon can reattach the retina a couple of different ways. They can use a laser to burn the tissue at the site of the retina and bind the retina to the tissue. As the tissue heals, the retina will be held in place by the scar tissue. Alternatively, your surgeon can use gas to create a tiny bubble in the back of your eye. The bubble is used to manipulate the retina into position and holds it in place while your surgeon uses a laser to reattach the retina. Once the retina is secure, the bubble will be burst and has no impact on your vision.  

Retinal detachment is a serious eye condition that requires prompt treatment to prevent damage to surrounding tissues and permanent damage to your sight. If you have any of the symptoms noted above, or if you have any concerns about your vision, book an eye test with your optometrist as soon as possible.