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Learn About Vision Disorders: Detached Retinas

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Detached Retinas

What is the retina?

The retina is a layer of tissue inside your eye that is very sensitive to light and responsible for sending visual messages to your brain by way of your optic nerve.

How does it detach?

When the retina moves from its normal position - it is either lifted or pulled into another spot of your eye - it is considered 'detached.'

What causes a detached retina and is it serious?

A detached retina can be caused by an eye injury or brought on by cataract surgery. It can also occur in anyone who has a family history of retinal detachment, has had retinal detachment in the other eye, is extremely nearsighted, or anyone with an eye disease like: retinoschisis, uveitis, degenerative myopia or lattice degeneration.

It can happen at any age, but retinal detachment is most common in people over the age of 40. A detached retina is very serious and can cause permanent vision loss. If diagnosed early, it is treatable in most cases.

What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?

If you are seeing a gradual increase in the number of floaters (little spots in your line of vision), seeing cobwebs (where it appears like there is a lattice pattern over your vision) or you are seeing specks that float in your line of vision, these could be signs of retinal detachment. You should always take signs like this very seriously and seek medical treatment from your optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately.

How is retinal detachment treated?

A laser surgery or a freeze treatment (called Cryopexy) can treat the small tears or holes that cause the retinal detachment. Surgeries are usually performed in a doctor's office, but some, more severe detachment cases can require hospital surgery and an overnight stay.

Do people with retinal detachment fully recover their eyesight?

In 90 percent of retinal detachment cases, the treatment is successful. Sometimes, the visual outcome is not certain for months after surgery as the eye heals. In general, the earlier the detachment is treated, the better the prognosis for full recovery.

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