The retina is the innermost layer of the wall of the eye, lining the inside of the vitreous cavity, and is responsible for capturing the light stimuli that reach it. Retinal detachment is the separation of the retina from the outermost layers of the eye and its fall into the vitreous cavity, with the consequent loss of its function.
Although there are other causes, the most common is rhegmatogenous retinal detachment: The origin is a break in the retina, usually caused by a sharp detachment of the vitreous, which pulls and breaks it, allowing the liquefied vitreous to pass through and detach it. This can occur spontaneously or due to trauma, surgery, etc. Myopes have a weaker retina and are therefore more prone to breakage.
Symptoms of retinal detachment
The main symptom is the loss of vision of the area corresponding to the detached retina. It is usually seen as a “black curtain” that grows as the detachment progresses until complete loss of vision is reached. This may occur within minutes or may take several weeks, usually within a few days.
The loss of vision may be preceded by the symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment, sudden appearance of “floaters” and flashing lights.
Treatment of retinal detachment
The most common technique today is vitrectomy, whereby the interior of the eye is accessed through three small incisions to remove the vitreous, reapply the retina and laser seal the breaks. The inside of the eye will be left with a buffering substance that prevents the retina from detaching again while it heals. The most common is the expandable gas, although in some cases it is necessary to leave silicone oil.
The patient will have to keep absolute rest during the first days, and will not be able to make efforts or work for 2 or 3 months, depending on the type of detachment. In addition, during the first days the patient may be instructed to take a certain position, face down, sitting, etc., to improve the effect of the buffer gas.
In general it is a long and sometimes difficult process for the patient, compared to other eye surgeries, but thanks to the techniques available today, in most cases we achieve a satisfactory result.