Retinal Conditions

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina is separated from its normal position at the back of the eye. Once detached, the retina no longer functions properly. This is a serious retina condition and without prompt treatment can pose a risk of permanent vision loss.

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is painless but early symptoms that may indicate the possibility of retina detachment include:

  • The sudden appearance of flashing lights could be the first sign of a retinal detachment.
  • A sudden increase in the number and size of floaters – small black shapes, like a piece of hair moving across your field of vision – may indicate a retinal detachment is occurring.
  • A shadow in the periphery of your field of vision.
  • A grey curtain moving across your field of vision.
  • A sudden decrease in your vision.

These symptoms do not definitively mean you have a retinal detachment, however they do warrant a visit to your eye care professional as soon as possible. Retinal detachment, if left untreated could result in permanent vision loss. If you have been diagnosed with a retinal detachment, we recommend that you contact Calgary Retina Consultants immediately by phone as this may require emergency treatment.

Causes of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachmentcan occur for a number of reasons. Alongside the natural aging process, retinal detachments are usually causedby tears or holes in the retina that develop over time as the vitreous gel contracts and pulls on the retina.

Patients that are at higher risk of retinal detachment include those with the following conditions:

  • Severe nearsightedness / myopia in one or both eyes
  • Recently undergone cataract surgery
  • Glaucoma
  • Previous retinal detachment
  • A family history of retinal detachment
  • A recent eye injury

Weak areas in the retina that may lead to retinal detachmentcan be detected by your eye care professional during a dilated eye exam.

If you are in a higher risk category for retinal detachment, we recommend that you schedule regular eye exams. Early diagnosis of retinal detachment is the best way to protect your vision.

Diagnosing Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachments are painless and cannot be detected by observation alone.Only through a dilated eye exam can your eye care professional definitively confirm a tear or detachment is present.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a retinal detachment, you require prompt attention and may require emergency surgery. Contact Calgary Retina Consultants or your eye care professional immediately by telephone.

Treatment of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachments require immediate attention and prompt treatment.  Without treatment, vision loss can progress from minor to severe within hours or days depending on severity and result in blindness.

Currently there are 3 different surgical approaches to repairing a retinal detachment;scleral buckle, pneumatic retinopexy, and a vitrectomy.

You can read detailed descriptions of each of these approaches options by clicking this link for Corrective Retinal Surgery.

Surgery for retinal detachment is complicated and very specific to each individual case. The type of treatment needed depends on the type of detachment, and the presence of any other complicating factors. Following examination, our retinal specialists will advise you on which treatment option is best suited for your individual case.

Following your initial assessment and diagnosis your retinal specialist will determine how quickly treatment needs to be carried out, this may be within 24 hours or it may be within days. The sooner the treatment is carried out the better the outcome for your vision. Surgery for a retinal detachment is an outpatient procedure.