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Did you know?
Early diagnosis and treatment of retinal detachment can save your vision.
Click here to learn about vitreoretinal surgery.
Your retina is the thin membrane that lines the back of your eye. When you look at objects around you, the lens of the eye focuses waves of light on the retina. This is like film in a camera. Then your optic nerve sends the images from your retina to your brain. This process allows you to see.
The large space between the lens and the retina is filled with a substance called vitreous gel. This gel has the same consistency as a raw egg white. Sometimes there are tears or breaks that happen when the gel pulls loose or separates from the retina. This is called retinal detachment.
As more of the gel collects behind the retina, the damage can progress and involve the entire retina. This leads to a total retinal detachment. When this happens, the cells in the retina are deprived of oxygen. The longer the cells are without oxygen, the greater the risk of permanent vision loss in the affected eye.
A detached retina is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention from an experienced eye surgeon. Fortunately, a forming retinal detachment often has clear warning signs.
- Light flashes
- Sudden appearance of floaters – small bits of debris -- that resemble spots, hairs or strings and seem to float in your eyes
- A shadow or curtain over a portion of your visual field
- Sudden blurring or a decrease of vision
Early diagnosis and treatment of retinal detachment can save your vision. There are a number of options that your doctor can use to treat the detachment, including laser surgery. Your doctor will determine which treatment is best for you based on the type, severity, and location of the detachment.