The retina is a tissue that lines the back of the eye. It receives light rays and creates signals that are translated into images. Sometimes, the retina is compared to the film of a camera. It is about the size of a postage stamp, and consists of a central area known as the macula, as well as a much larger peripheral retinal area. There are two types of light receptor cells in the retina, called the cones and the rods. Rods help us to see better in conditions that lack light, whereas cones allow for the sharpening and coloring of our vision. Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from its attachments to the underlying eye tissue.
When the retina separates from the eye tissue, this is known as a retinal detachment. For the most part, retinal detachments occur due to retinal breaks, holes or tears. Breaks and tears occur as a result of a loosening or separation of the vitreous gels from the retina. The vitreous is a clear gel that fills most of the eye. Most breaks are not the result of an injury. In some cases, retinal tears are accompanied by bleeding. Some people develop this kind of vitreous separation as a result of the aging process. However, not all these vitreous separations lead to retinal tears. After tearing, vitreous gel can pass through the tear and begin to accumulate behind the retina. This is what contributes to the detachment of the retina. The more liquid that builds up, the worst the detachment will be. In general, a retinal detachment affects just one eye at a time.
If the problem of retinal detachment is not properly addressed, then it is likely that a complete loss of vision will occur. In any case, retinal detachment will almost certainly result in an obscuring of ones peripheral vision. It is very rare for the retina to reattach itself without treatment.
Surgery is normally successful with regard to the reattachment of the retina, particularly if the problem is identified and addressed at an early stage of its development. Surgery normally results in the improvement and subsequent stabilization of vision. Treatment options include approaches like cryotherapy, laser therapy, as well as surgical approaches like scleral buckling, pneumatic retinopexy, and vitrectomy. Several factors will determine the approach taken by the medical team, including whether retinal traction or bleeding has occurred in addition to the detachment.