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Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina is lifted or pulled from the wall of the eye. If not treated immediately, a retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of a retinal detachment should call their doctor of optometry’soffice immediately.

Symptoms of retinal detachment

  • The appearance of a curtain over the field of vision.
  • Seeing light flashes or sparks
  • Wavy or watery vision
  • A sudden decrease in vision
  • A sudden increase in the number of floaters or cobwebs in the field of vision

Who is most at risk for retinal detachment?

  • Those who are very nearsighted
  • People with a family history of retinal detachment
  • Those who have had cataract surgery
  • Patients with diabetes or other eye disorders

Treatment for retinal detachment

Retinal detachments are treated with surgery that may require a hospital stay. In some cases, a scleral buckle, a tiny synthetic band, is attached to the outside of the eyeball to gently push the wall of the eye against the detached retina. If necessary, a vitrectomy may also be performed. Vitrectomy is a procedure in which the vitreous humor is removed and replaced with a gas or silicone oil that pushes the retina back onto the wall of the eye. Over time the eye produces fluid that replaces the gas. In both of these procedures either a laser or a cryopexy (a freezing device) is used to “weld” the retina back in place. Visual recovery depends on how long the retina has been detached and the particular circumstances related to the detachement. Regardless, a qualified retinal specialist is the person who can best treat these problems with laser or surgery.