Retinal Tear | Retinal Hole | Lattice Degeneration
What is retina?
Retina is a thin layer of cells in the back of the eye. It translates light into neural signals and sends them to the brain through the optic nerve. Retina is roughly as thick as a sheet of paper and it lines the back of the the eye similar to a wallpaper.
What is a retinal detachment?
If retina develops a full-thickness defect such as a hole or a tear, the fluid inside the eye can go behind the retina and separate it from the back of the eye similar to a wallpaper being separated from the wall. This is called a retinal detachment. The detached part of the retina can lose its functions permanently within hours to days and cause permanent vision loss in that part of vision. It is very important to prevent retinal detachments. Conditions that put the retina at risk of imminent detachment are eye emergencies.
What are conditions that can cause retinal detachment?
Common conditions that are associated with retinal detachment include:
Lattice degeneration: when a part of retina is thinner than normal. These thinner areas are at higher risk of turning into full-thickness holes or tears.
Retinal hole: as we age, the periphery of the retina can get thinner and create holes.
Retinal tear: as a normal process of aging, vitreous, the jelly inside the eye, shrinks and separates from the retina. Occasionally, it pulls on the retina too hard and causes a tear as it separates from it.
Retinal tear, hole, and lattice degeneration can be treated effectively in the office with laser retinopexy before they turn into a retinal detachment.
What are alarming signs and risk factors of retinal detachment?
Occasionally a retinal tear releases some blood and/or pigments inside the eye and creates numerous floaters. Changes in the structure of vitreous can also create floaters. It can also cause flashes of light in the peripheral vision if it pulls too hard on the retina - because retina can only create perception of light, whether it is stimulated by light or by a mechanical force. Therefore, new floaters or flashes of light are eye emergencies. Additionally, lattice degeneration, often retinal holes, and occasionally retinal tears or detachments are silent and found accidentally during an eye exam. Risk factors of retinal detachment include longer eyes (high myopia or near-sightedness), history of eye surgery or trauma, family history of retinal detachment, or certain systemic conditions such as Marfan syndrome. If you have new floaters, flashes of light, or risk factors for retinal detachment, contact your ophthalmologist today to make an appointment.