What is a Detached Retina?

Retinal detachment is a serious condition because of the risk it carries for vision loss. The condition is not common, but it’s not exactly rare, either. If you think that you have retinal detachment, contact your eye doctor immediately. If the situation develops after hours, head to the emergency room.

What Happens With Retinal Detachment?

The cornea is a clear covering that allows light to enter the eye. Together, the cornea and lens focus light onto the retina which acts very much like film in a camera. The process leading to a retinal detachment usually begins with a retinal tear, followed by a small detachment that progressively increases in size. As the retina detaches from the wall of the eye, it loses function. Subsequently, you lose all or part of your vision.

One major contributor to retinal detachment is the Vitreous, a component of the eye. Usually, changes in the vitreous happen over time or age. The vitreous is the gel that fills the hollow space in the center of the eye and is about 98% water. The vitreous is a matrix of collagen fibers. In youth, the vitreous is quite uniform, but over time things change. Two key changes happen; one is that pockets of liquid form in the body of the vitreous and second, the vitreous may progressively separate from its attachments to the back part of the retina.

What Causes Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment can come about from an injury, changes in the biology of the eye or as a result of another condition or occurrence. In addition to age, there are several risk factors for developing a retinal tear. Among them are previous cataract surgeries, trauma, or significant nearsightedness. A retinal tear is most often caused by a vitreous pulling on a part of the retina where it is strongly attached. A detached retina can cause blindness, nearsightedness, clouded vision, and other associated eye-related diseases.

A detached retina will often happen in stages before it is completely detached. Common warning symptoms of a detached retina in the beginning stages are light flashes, floaters, and missing pockets of vision. You should contact your eye doctor promptly if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. The sooner you get to a doctor, the easier it is to repair and restore your vision.

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