The light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye is called the retina. The retina sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. This is how we see. If the retina detaches from the optic nerve, vision can be lost permanently. In some cases, the retina can be torn and this is referred to as a retinal tear. The tears can lead to detachment.
Retinal tears or detachment can be cause by trauma, diabetes, or an inflammatory disorder but is most often caused by a related condition called posterior vitreous detachment. Bleeding from small retinal blood vessels can cloud the interior of the eye that is normally filled with vitreous fluid. This can occur at any age but is more common after the age of 40. Symptoms include bright flashes of light, floaters, shadows, or blurred vision.
Treatment is available for torn or detached retinas. Cryopexy is a surgical procedure in which a cold ice probe is applied on the area to help form a scar so that the retina will hold to the underlying layer of the eye. Laser surgery is another method and it can seal the tear or hole in the retina. Pneumatic retinopexy is a surgical procedure that places a gas bubble in the eye and helps the retina float back into place.
If you experience issues such as flashes or floaters, it may not be a cause of concern, but if changes in your vision are sudden and severe, you should seek professional care immediately. If you are experiencing any of the conditions mentioned above, contact Magruder Eye Institute and schedule an appointment one of our Retina Specialists.