A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position in the back of the eye. The retina sends visual images to the brain through the optic nerve. When detachment occurs, vision is blurred. A detached retina is a very serious problem that almost always causes blindness unless it is treated.
The retina normally lies smoothly and firmly against the inside back wall of the eyeball and functions much like the film in the back of a camera. Millions of light-sensitive retinal cells receive optical images, instantly “develop” them, and send them on to the brain to be seen. If any part of the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position, it is considered detached and will cause some vision loss.
The vitreous is the clear collagen gel that fills the back of the eye between the retina and the lens. As we get older the vitreous may pull away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye. Usually the vitreous separates from the retina without causing a problem. But sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places. Fluid may pass through the retinal tear and lift the retina off the back of the eye like wallpaper can peel off a wall.
Retinal detachment can occur at any age, but it is more common in midlife and later. Conditions that can increase the chance of a retinal detachment include nearsightedness; previous cataract surgery; glaucoma; severe trauma; previous retinal detachment in your other eye; family history of retinal detachment; or weak areas in your retina that can be seen by your ophthalmologist.
- Gray curtain or veil moving across your field of vision
Macular hole is a problem that affects the very central portion of the retina. It happens for a variety of reasons such as: eye injuries, certain diseases, and inflammation inside the eye. However, the most common cause is related to the normal aging process.
The vitreous gel inside the eye is firmly attached to the macula. With age, the vitreous becomes thinner and separates from the retina. Sometimes this creates traction on the macula, causing a hole to form.
Macular holes often begin gradually and affect central vision depending on the severity and extent of the problem. Partial holes only affect part of the macular layers, causing wavy, distorted, blurred vision. Patients with full-thickness macular holes experience a complete loss of central vision.
Signs And Symptoms
The severity of the symptoms is dependent on whether the hole is partial or full-thickness.
- Blurred central vision
- Distorted, “wavy” vision
- Difficulty reading or performing tasks that require seeing detail
- Gray area in central vision
- Central blind spot
Diabetes can affect sight by causing cataracts, glaucoma, and most importantly, damage to blood vessels inside the eye, a condition known as “diabetic retinopathy”. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. When blood vessels in the retina are damaged, they may leak blood and grow fragile, brush-like branches and scar tissue. This can blur or distort the vision images that the retina sends to the brain.
Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. People with untreated diabetes are said to be 25 times more at risk for blindness than the general population. The longer a person has had diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, with regular, proper eye care and treatment when necessary, the incidence of severe vision loss has been greatly reduced. If you have diabetes, your ophthalmologist can help to prevent serious vision problems.
- Difficulty reading
- Blurred vision
- Sudden loss of vision in one eye
- Seeing rings around lights
- Dark spots or flashing lights