Retinal diseases specifically affect the retina- a layer of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that is responsible for vision. Retinal diseases can be associated with diabetes, trauma to the eye, or family history. People with retinal diseases experience an array of symptoms, from specks floating in their vision to blurred or lost vision. Many types of retinal diseases share common symptoms and treatments, but each has unique characteristics. To make a diagnosis it is important to see your eye care provider for a thorough eye examination.
Retinal detachment is a medical emergency requiring prompt surgical treatment to preserve vision. In retinal detachment, the retina is pulled away from the underlying choroid, a thin layer of blood vessels that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the retina. Retinal detachment leaves retinal cells deprived of oxygen, so the longer the retina and choroid remain separated, the greater the risk of permanent vision loss in the affected eye. Fortunately, retinal detachment often has clear warning signs.
Warning signs of retinal detachment include:
- Sudden appearance of many floaters or various shapes such as little dots, circles, lines, clouds or cobwebs that appear to “float” in front of the eye
- Sudden flashes of light in one or both eyes
- A shadow or curtain over a portion of your visual field
- Sudden blur in your vision
If you go to your local eye care provider as soon as warning signs appear, early diagnosis and treatment of retinal detachment can save your vision.
Retinal detachment can occur as a result of:
- Advanced diabetes
- An inflammatory disorder
- Sagging or shrinkage of the vitreous humor, the clear gel that fills the space between the lens and the retina
The following factors increase your risk of retinal detachment:
- Aging (Individuals over 40 years of age)
- Previous retinal detachment
- Family history of retinal detachment
- Extreme nearsightedness
- Previous eye surgery or eye trauma
- Weak areas on the sides of your retina
Surgery is the only effective therapy for a retinal tear, hole, or detachment. Your local eye care provider can tell you about the various risks and benefits of your treatment options.