A retinal detachment occurs when the retina’s sensory and pigment layers separate. Because it can cause devastating damage to vision if left untreated, retinal detachment is considered an ocular emergency that requires immediate medical attention and surgery. Retinal tears commonly occur when there is traction on the retina by the vitreous gel inside the eye. In a child’s eye, the vitreous has an egg-white consistency and is firmly attached to certain areas of the retina. Over time, the vitreous gradually becomes thinner and more liquid and separates from the retina.
The following are risk factors:
- age (40+)
- previous retinal detachments or tears
- extreme nearsightedness
- previous eye surgery or injury
1 in 15,000 of the general U.S. population.
Flashing lights, floating objects, and a gray curtain moving across the field of vision indicates a possible retinal detachment.
Laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing) is used to seal retinal tears and prevent detachment. If you suffer from retinal detachment, a surgical procedure called scleral buckling, in conjunction with cryotherapy or laser photocoagulation will be necessary.