Explaining a detached retina

It’s easy to take vision for granted. Many people are born with fully functional eyes and only experience mild vision loss throughout their lives. But when vision is compromised and vision loss occurs, the reality of just how valuable eyesight is can sink in quickly.

Various factors can contribute to vision loss. Many people only experience age-related vision loss, which is typically combatted with prescription eyeglasses. But sometimes vision loss, whether it’s linked to aging or not, can be more menacing. Such is the case when a person has a detached retina.

What is the retina?
The retina is the layer of cells that lines the back wall inside the eye. The online medical resource Verywell Health says that light is projected onto the retina as it enters through the cornea, pupil and lens. The nerves of the retina then process that light and associated images before transferring their signals to the optic nerve, which then transports the signals to the brain. That’s where the perception of images occurs, which highlights just how important a role the retina plays in vision.

What is a detached retina?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology says a detached retina occurs when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye. This is a serious problem that, if left untreated, could lead to vision loss in the affected eye.

What causes a detached retina?
Various things can cause the retina to become detached. The AAO notes that, as a person ages, the vitreous in his or her eyes begins to shrink and get thinner. As the eye moves, the vitreous, a jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye, moves around on the retina and does not cause any problems. However, in some instances, the vitreous sticks to the retina and pulls hard enough to tear it, allowing fluid to pass through the tear and detaching the retina.

But age is not the only thing that can contribute to a detached retina. Verywell Health notes that trauma like a blow to the head can cause the retina to detach as well. Such trauma sometimes occurs when playing sports.

What are the signs of a detached retina?
The AAO urges anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms to contact an ophthalmologist immediately; otherwise, any delays can contribute to vision loss in the affected eye.

• Seeing flashing lights: Some people compare this symptom, which appears suddenly, to seeing stars after being hit in the eye.

• Noticing many floaters at once: The floaters may appear to resemble specks, lines or cobwebs in the affected person’s field of vision.

• A shadow in the affected person’s peripheral vision

• A gray curtain covering affected person’s field of vision

How is a detached retina treated?
The AAO notes that surgery is performed to repair a detached retina. There are different types of surgery to repair detached retinas, and patients can discuss their surgical options with their ophthalmologists.

A detached retina is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Learn more about detached retinas at www.aao.org.

Weekly Ads

Click here to view ads as a list.