New hope for retinal detachment
RETINAL detachment is something not everyone is familiar with, yet, if not treated early, it could lead to impairment or complete loss of vision. The retina, a thin membrane attached to the back surface of the eye, acts like the film in a camera. As light enters the eye, it passes through the cornea and lens and focuses onto the retina.
The retina then transforms the light energy into vision and remits the information back to the brain through the optic nerve.
It is essential that the retina be nourished by the choroid, which is a layer behind the retina.
It is when the retina peels away from the choroid and floats in the vitreous cavity that it loses its function. The causes for the detachment are varied. The vitreous, which fills most of the volume of the eye, tends to shrink with age and cataract removal accelerates the shrinkage.
Should the retina be thin as a result of age, high myopia, injury or hereditary factors, the pull of the shrinking vitreous can produce reti- nal tears and this in turn could progress to retinal detachment.
Secondary detachments, which do not have tears or holes in the retina, can be caused by other eye diseases, such as tumours, severe inflammations, or complications of diabetes.
The only suitable treatment for secondary detachments would be to treat the disease which caused it. This may then allow the retina to return to its normal position.
Symptoms can include floating black spots or flashes of light in the vision of middle-aged and older persons, though in most cases these symptoms may not be serious. But in some eyes, the sudden appearance of spots or flashes of light could indicate a substantial shrinkage of the vitreous with tears in the retina.
In such cases, it is highly recommended that a comprehensive medical eye examination be conducted by an ophthalmologist, in order for the inside of the eye to be inspected.
An examination of this sort is best carried out as soon as symptoms manifest as fresh retinal tears are generally treatable by laser photocoagulation before there is a chance of them leading to a more serious retinal detachment.
Other symptoms might begin without noticeable floaters or light flashes, but rather patients could notice a wavy or watery quality in their overall vision, or the appearance of a dark shadow in part of their vision.
Further development of the retinal detachment will blur central vision and can create significant loss in one eye unless the detachment is repaired. Treatment as soon as possible is essential. Successful reattachment of the retina consists of sealing the retinal tear and preventing the retina from pulling away.
Various procedures are available, but the final choice will depend on the severity of the detachment and the ophthalmologist’s judgment.
Laser photocoagulation, freezing (cryopexy) and surgical repair are three options available and with 90% success rate, it is good to know that these techniques do generally work well.
Sometimes, however, more than one operation is required.
Should the retina be successfully reattached, then the eye will retain some degree of sight and blindness will be prevented.
It is important also to note that the degree of vision which finally returns about six months after successful surgery will depend on a number of factors.
One of these is the length of time for which the retina had been detached, or if there is a fibrous growth on the retina’s surface.
Around 40% of successfully treated retinal detachments have achieved excellent vision, while the remainder have varying amounts of reading and/or travelling vision.
Sadly, due to continuous shrinkage of the vitreous and fibrous growth development on the retina, it is not possible to reattach all retinas.
GOOD RESULTS: Laser photocoagulation, freezing (cryopexy) and surgical repair are three options available in treating the condition and have a 90% success rate