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Retinal Detachment – Early detection and treatment can restore vision …

• What is retinal detachment ?

It is the separation of the sensory part of the eye (neurosensory retina) from it’s normal place, most commonly due to formation of a hole or tear in the retina itself through which fluid seeps behind and retina separating it from it’s normal position.

It can lead to severe visual loss as the sensory part of the eye is damaged. Also the longer the retina remains detached the chances of visual recovery after surgery decrease as permanent degenerative changes set in a detached retina. So, early management is a must in cases of retinal detachment.

• What are it’s symptoms ?

Early symptoms before the detachment occurs can be sensations of flashes of light or a shower of black spots (floaters) in front of the eye. Then it can increase to a curtain like sensation or loss of visibility in a particular direction. Finally there is marked diminution of central vision. Straight lines not appearing straight or waviness of objects can also be one of the symptoms.

• Who are more prone to get a detachment ?

Persons wearing minus glasses are more likely to have degenerative processes in the retina which predispose to a detachment.
Persons who have undergone any intraocular surgery like cataract surgery are more at risk for detachment.
Persons having sustained trauma to the eye whether by blunt or sharp objects can develop a detachment.
If you have a family history of detachment, there is some risk that your retina might have some degenerative processes which predispose to detachment.

• Can it be treated ?

With present day technology, advanced surgery for retinal detachment is available. It can be either conventional buckling surgery or vitreo-retinal surgery.
The aim of surgery is to close the retinal holes or tears and to bring back the detached retina to it’s original place.
The visual recovery depends a lot on the duration of the detachment and the amount of degeneration that has set in the retina after detachment.
It is difficult to predict the exact visual recovery, however if a fresh detachment is treated within first week of its occurrence significant visual recovery can be expected.

• Can it be prevented ?

The earliest symptoms of retinal detachment are flashes (sensations of sparks of light) and floaters (multiple black spots in front of the eye). If the patient can recognize these symptoms, a retina evaluation must be done. The retina specialist would be able to pick up any evidence of break in the retina or weak areas in the retina which if treated with LASER or cryotherapy (cold sealing) can prevent retinal detachment.
People predisposed to a detachment like those with high minus number glasses and those who have undergone cataract surgery or suffered trauma to the eye also must get their retina screening done.

• Can my other eye be affected ?

Patients who have had a retinal detachment in one eye are at a higher risk of developing a detachment in the other eye. They must get their other eye screened by a retina specialist for any weak areas in the retina which can be treated to prevent a detachment.

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