Retinal Detachment: Causes, Symptoms, Types and Treatment

Retinal Detachment

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Retinal Detachment

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Retinal Detachment or a detached retina is an emergency condition in which the layer of the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye) pulls away from its normal position. The retina works with the cornea, lens, and other parts of the eye and brain to produce normal vision.

When the retina gets detached from the back of the eye, it separates the retina cells from the layer of blood vessels and gets deprived of oxygen and nourishment. If not treated, the eye condition can affect vision and lead to blindness. Let's read about Retinal Detachment, its representation by pictures, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and more.

Disease Name Retinal Detachment
Alternative Name Detached Retina
Symptoms Blurred vision, Partial vision loss, Sudden appearance of floaters, Darkening of peripheral vision, Darkening or shadow covering part of the vision
Causes Small tear in the retina, Tissue growth in the retina, Eye inflammation, Injury to the eye, Age-related macular degeneration, Cancer behind the retina
Diagnosis Retinal examination, Ultrasound imaging, Fluorescein angiography, Optical coherence tomography (OCT), Ophthalmoscopy
Treated by Ophthalmologist
Treatment options

Scleral buckle surgery, Pneumatic retinopexy, Laser (thermal) therapy or cryopexy (freezing), Vitrectomy

What is Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment or a detached retina is an emergency condition in which the layer of the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye) pulls away from its normal position. It must be treated quickly to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.

Retinal Detachment Types

Retinal detachment is an emergency condition that may be presented differently depending on the cause of the condition. There are three types of retinal detachment:

  1. Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment: This type of detachment occurs with a small tear, hole or break in the retina. This allows the eye fluid (vitreous) to travel through the tear and collect underneath the retina. The fluid pushes the retina away, detaching it from the back of the eye. Rhegmatogenous detachment usually happens in elderly people. 
  2. Tractional retinal detachment: This type of detachment occurs when scar tissue or other tissue grows on the retina’s surface, pulling it apart from the back of the eye. The condition is typically seen in diabetic people. The prolonged high blood sugar level can damage the blood vessels in the eye and result in scar tissue formation. The scars can get bigger, leading to retinal detachment from the back of the eye. 
  3. Exudative retinal detachment: In this type of detachment, fluid builds underneath the retina without any holes or tears in the retina. The main causes of fluid buildup include:
    1. Eye inflammation, leading to leaking blood vessels or swelling behind the eye
    2. Injury to the eye
    3. Age-related macular degeneration
    4. Cancer behind the retina

Retinal Detachment Symptoms

There is no pain experienced with retinal detachment. But the warning signs usually appear before the detachment occurs or advances. Signs and symptoms of retinal detachment include:

  1. Blurred vision
  2. Partial vision loss
  3. Photopsia (seeing flashes of light in one or both eyes)
  4. Seeing a lot of floaters (dark spots, threads, or small bits of debris that drift through the field of vision)
  5. Reduced peripheral vision (side vision)
  6. A shadow-like curtain covering part of the vision

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Retinal Detachment Causes

Retinal detachment happens when the retina is pulled away from its normal position. There are many retinal detachment causes, but the most common causes are ageing or an eye injury. Other causes of retinal detachment include:

  1. Small tear in the retina
  2. Scar tissue growth on the retina
  3. Eye inflammation
  4. Structural changes to the eye
  5. Age-related macular degeneration
  6. Cancer behind the retina

Retinal Detachment Risk Factors

Anyone can experience retinal detachment, but the risk of developing retinal detachment can increase due to several factors, including:

  1. Ageing: More common in people over 50 years of age
  2. Family history of retinal detachment
  3. Previous eye injury
  4. Intraocular surgery (surgeries involving the eyes)
  5. Extreme myopia (nearsightedness)
  6. Posterior vitreous detachment (thick fluid in the middle of the eye pulls away from the retina)
  7. Diabetic retinopathy (eye condition caused due to diabetes)
  8. Lattice degeneration (thinning of the retina)
  9. Retinoschisis (retina separates into two layers)

Prevention of Retinal Detachment

Since the most common cause of retinal detachment is ageing, there is often no way to prevent it. However, if the patient takes the following measures, he/she can lower the risk of retinal detachment.

  1. Get regular eye care: regular eye checkups help to protect eye health. People with nearsightedness (Myopia) makes them more prone to retinal detachment. 
  2. Stay safe: use safety goggles or other protective gear when playing sports or doing risky activities.
  3. Get prompt treatment: a patient must consult the doctor immediately if he/she notices symptoms of retinal detachment.

How is Retinal Detachment diagnosed?

The doctor will generally be able to diagnose retinal detachment by dilating the eye to check the retina. The doctor will put eye drops in the eye that will dilate (widen) the pupil. After which the doctor will get a close look at the retina. The doctor may also recommend some of the following additional tests after the dilated eye exam.

  1. Fluorescein Angiography: The doctor will use some dye and a camera to check the blood flow in the retina.
  2. Tonometry: The doctors do this test to check the pressure inside the eye.
  3. Retinal examination: In this diagnostic test, the doctor uses an instrument with a bright light and a special microscope to examine the back of the eye. The device provides a detailed view of the complete eye, allowing the doctor to look for retinal tears, holes, or detachments. 
  4. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): The doctor dilates the eyes with eye drops for this imaging. The test uses an OCT machine that scans the eyes to differentiate the layers within the retina and measure the retinal thickness. 
  5. Ocular Ultrasound: During this test, the doctor gently places an instrument in front of the eye to scan it. He/she will then use the same instrument to scan the eyeballs with closed eyes.

How to prepare for the doctor's consultation?

  1. List down symptoms including any that may seem unrelated to the condition.
  2. List down the relevant events that may be related to the condition.
  3. The patient must tell the doctor the list of medications and supplements that he takes.
  4. The following questions should be asked the doctor:
    1. What treatment is best suitable for me?
    2. How can I stay comfortable in this condition?
    3. Do you think I have any other conditions?
    4. Do I need to see a specialist for my condition?
    5. Why is surgery needed?

Retinal Detachment Treatment

Depending on the age, health condition, the degree to which the retina is detached and the type of retinal detachment, the doctor may recommend one of the following treatment methods to fix the retinal detachment.

Retinal Detachment treatment with surgery

  1. Laser (thermal) therapy or cryopexy (freezing): the doctor will use a medical laser or a freezing tool to seal the tear. The devices will make a scar that will hold the retina in place.
  2. Pneumatic retinopexy: this method is done when there is a small detachment. The doctor will place a gas bubble in the eye to help the retina flow back into place. Then the retina is sealed by a laser.
  3. Scleral buckle: the doctor will gently push the eye wall up against the retina.
  4. Vitrectomy: this method is used for the largest tear and detachment. It is done to remove gel or scar tissue pulling on the retina.
Surgery Name Surgery Cost
Vitrectomy ₹50,000 to ₹70,000
Retinal Detachment Treatment || image

Risks and Complications of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is an emergency condition and requires medical attention. If a retinal detachment is left untreated it can lead to the following complications:

  1. Permanent vision loss
  2. Cataract formation (loss of clarity of the lens of the eye)
  3. Glaucoma (raised pressure in the eye)
  4. Infection
  5. Haemorrhage (bleeding) into the vitreous cavity

When to see a doctor?

The patient can consult the doctor if he/she experiences:

  1. Blurred vision
  2. Partial vision loss
  3. Seeing a lot of floaters 
  4. Reduced peripheral vision

Diet for Retinal Detachment

Diet cannot treat retina detachment, but the doctor may recommend a diet rich in certain nutrients to prevent retinal tears. Below mentioned are some of the food items that will help keep the good health of the retina.

  1. Dark green, leafy vegetables that include kale, spinach, chard and collard greens are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin as the retina needs this nutrition for its good health.
  2. Food items rich in Vitamin C include oranges, apples, peaches, tomatoes and grapefruits.
  3. Food items rich in Omega 3 fatty acids include salmon and tuna
  4. Food items rich in Zinc include eggs and salmon.
  5. Food items rich in Vitamin E include walnut, almonds, and hazelnuts. 

FAQs for Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is a serious condition in which your retina (a light-sensitive layer of nerve tissues in the back of the eye) pulls away from its normal spot. This can lead to blindness if not treated in time.

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The most common cause of retinal detachment is ageing. As you age, the vitreous in your eye may change in texture and shrink, pulling your retina from its normal position.

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The appearance of dots or lines in your vision, flashes of light in your vision, darkness or shadow moving in your vision, and sudden blurring of visions are the warning signs of a retinal detachment.

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Retinal detachment separates the retinal cells from the blood vessels that provide oxygen and nourishment The longer it is untreated, the greater you are at the risk of permanent vision loss in the affected eye.

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To test for retinal detachment, your doctor will dilate (widen) your pupil with the help of some eye drops and then will examine your retina. This examination is usually painless. Sometimes, the doctor may press your eyelids to check for a retinal tear, which may be uncomfortable for some people.

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In general, rubbing the eye alone will not lead to retinal detachment. If a person applies pressure on the eye and rubs very hard, then it can damage or lead to retinal detachment. However, excessive eye rubbing can also harm your cornea or cause eye irritation.

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A detached retina won't heal on its own. Some people do not get their vision back, especially in severe conditions. Getting medical care as soon as possible is important to keep your vision.

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Yes, retinal detachment commonly happens spontaneously or suddenly. The risk factors include age, nearsightedness, history of eye surgeries or trauma, and family history of retinal detachments. Contact the HexaHealth team for a hassle-free consultation with our experienced doctors.

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In most cases, surgical procedures are necessary to repair a detached retina. Laser surgery (photocoagulation) and freezing (cryopexy) are the most common surgical options to treat retinal detachment.

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In most specialist eye centres, around nine out of ten retinal detachments are successfully repaired by a single operation. In some cases, a second operation may also be needed.

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To treat retinal detachment, surgical procedures may be needed. After surgery, you may need to stay in the hospital for a short period, and it may take a few weeks before your vision improves.

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Retinal detachment surgery is generally painless, but you should immediately inform your surgeon/doctor when you feel any sensation. You can signal this without speaking to avoid head or eye movement.

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Yes, all health insurance plans cover the treatment for retinal detachment. Paperwork is facilitated by our team on your behalf ensuring smooth approval and a cashless facility. Contact HexaHealth for a simple cashless and hassle-free experience.

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The cost of retinal detachment surgery is variable, considering the type of hospital chosen, the technique recommended, the patient's medical condition based on age and other health factors, etc. Contact HexaHealth for price transparency.

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  1. Myth: Retinal detachment develops only after accidents.
    Fact: No, retinal detachment condition may also develop in any healthy person.
  2. Myth: The progression of retinal detachment is slow.
    Fact: No, retinal detachment condition progresses rapidly and is also considered an emergency condition.
  3. Myth: Retinal detachment is not recurrent.
    Fact: Retinal detachment does involve a high likelihood of recurrence. Several surgeries may be needed for recurrent tears or detachments.
  4. Myth: After retinal detachment surgery, my vision will rapidly improve.
    Fact: After the surgery for retinal detachment, the vision does not always improve as vision improvement is an extremely slow process.
  5. Myth: Only a few postoperative follow-up examinations will be sufficient after retinal surgery.
    Fact: No, an ophthalmologist will follow up with the patient for years post the retinal detachment surgery and usually, repeat surgery may also be required.
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Reviewer

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More

Author

Rajath R Prabhu

Rajath R Prabhu

MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management

3 Years Experience

His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More

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