The retina is responsible for sensing the light that enters our eyes and transmitting it to the brain to let us see. It is a very thin tissue layer that lines the back of the eye, and any damage to it can lead to severe vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include flashes, floaters, and a shade or curtain in your peripheral vision.
The most common cause of a retinal detachment is a tear in the retina. A retinal tear can happen for many reasons; the most common reason is due to the retina being pulled on by the vitreous. The vitreous is a gel that fills the back of the eye. The vitreous is adherent to the retina when we are young; as we get older the vitreous gel shrinks and separates from the retina. This is the most common cause for floaters and is termed a posterior vitreous detachment. It is therefore very important to see an ophthalmologist when experiencing new flashes or floaters because of the risk of retinal problems.
Retinal detachments can also be caused by trauma, myopia (nearsightedness), diabetic retinopathy, and may run in families. With early recognition we can treat retinal tears in the office rather that the operating room. If a retinal tear is left untreated, it may lead to a retinal detachment and significant visual loss.
Depending on the type of retinal detachment we may be able to treat your eye in the office. This would include laser surgery or cryotherapy (a freezing treatment), occasionally combined with a gas bubble. Depending on the severity, a procedure in the operating room may be the best treatment.