Definition
A retinal detachment is a serious eye condition in which the retina separates from the inner lining within the eye, often associated with holes or tears. It is a problem that occurs most frequently in the middle aged and elderly people and can lead to rapid and permanent blindness, if not treated quickly.

Causes
There are many causes of retinal detachments, but the most common is a tear in the retina. Also, retinal detachment is more common among patients with myopia (nearsightedness), diabetic patients, and those with a family history of retinal detachment.

Symptoms

1. Light flashes
2. Wavy or watery vision
3. Obstructing vision, i.e., the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision
4. Floaters (little “cobwebs” or specks that float about in your field of vision), though many people have had them for many years and it’s not a cause for concern
5. Sudden decrease of vision

Prevention
There is no known measure that prevents retinal detachment. Have routine checks by an ophthalmologist.

Treatment
The surgical principles involve reattaching the retina to the inner layers of the eye. Laser is used to “spot-weld” the retina back on. A silicon oil or gas bubble is usually placed inside the eye to help stabilize the retina while it is healing. When a gas bubble is used, the patient’s head must be positioned in such a way that the bubble is placed where it can support the healing retina. The gas usually takes about 20 days to reabsorb fully, and air travel is not allowed during this period.

Benefits of Treatment
The most obvious benefit is preventing you from going blind in the affected eye. You may have lost vision already from the retinal detachment and even with successful surgery, your vision may not return to normal.


To Note
A retinal detachment is a medical emergency. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of a retinal detachment should see an eye care professional immediately.