Retinal Detachment - Fairview Health Services
 
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Retinal Detachment

The eye is filled with a gel (“vitreous”) that supports its shape. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. It records visual images and sends them to your brain so you can see. Behind the retina is a thin layer of blood vessels that send oxygen to the retina.

With age, the vitreous contracts, separating from the retinal tissue. When the vitreous separates it causes “floaters” to appear gradually. (Floaters are small dots or strings that seem to be moving across your field of vision). Floaters are harmless.

As the vitreous pulls away from the retina, it may cause a tear in the retina. If vitreous gel seeps through the tear and behind the retina, it can peel the retina away from its blood supply. The cells in the detached part of the retina die and are no longer able to send light signals to the brain. This causes loss of vision. The larger the area of detachment, the greater the vision loss

Eye surgery is necessary to treat a retinal detachment. The type of surgery used depends on the type, size and location of the detached part of the retina. Timely treatment is successful in over 90% of the cases.

Home Care:

  1. Avoid contact sports or strenuous exertion prior to treatment by the eye doctor.

  2. Use eye protection when performing activities that risk injury to the eye (use of power tools, mowing, etc.)

  3. If you have a detached retina with severely impaired vision, your lifestyle will be affected. Depending on the degree of loss, you may no longer be able to drive or do other things you’re used to doing. If this happens, you might want to take some of the following steps to help:

    • You can have special glasses made for people with a detached retina to improve your vision.

    • Increase the amount of light in your home. This will make it easier for you to see.

    • Make your home safer by identifying hazards that might cause you to trip and fall.

    • Ask your family and friends for help. Talk with other people who have impaired vision. Members of support groups and on-line networks may have advice that’s helpful to you.

Follow Up

You will be referred to an eye doctor for further evaluation and treatment. Do not delay in seeing this doctor. Prompt treatment is necessary to protect your vision.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following signs of a new retinal tear occur:

  • Any sudden changes in your vision

  • Light flashes, “wavy” vision

  • Sudden blur in your vision

  • Curtain moving across part of your visual field.

  • Burst of new floaters (small dots or strings that seem to be moving across your field of vision)

 

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