Retinal Detachment Specialist

Retina & Macular Disease Specialists

Ophthalmologists & Retina and Macular Disease Specialists located in Arlington, VA

You’ll know retinal detachment, or at least, you should suspect it, when you begin to see flashes of light or many floaters. Dr. Jeevan Mathura and Dr. Lindsay Smithen want you to know that you should immediately contact Retina & Macular Disease Specialists if you experience these symptoms because a detached retina must be repaired quickly to prevent blindness. If you have any concerns about your eyes or vision, call their office in Arlington, Virginia, or schedule an eye exam online.

Retinal Detachment

What is retinal detachment?

Your retina is a layer of light-sensitive tissue in the back of your eye. It contains millions of photoreceptors that collect light that enters your eyes, turns the images into electrical impulses, then sends them to the brain which decodes the signals to produce vision.

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the underlying retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The RPE is a layer of supportive tissue that delivers nutrients to the retina and secretes substances that maintain the retina’s structure.

The retina can’t continue to function after it detaches from the RPE. As a result, retinal detachment causes blindness if you don't receive prompt treatment.

What causes retinal detachment?

A condition called posterior vitreous detachment can cause retinal detachment. The vitreous is the gel-like fluid inside your eye that’s connected to the retina by very fine fibers.

As you age, the vitreous thins out and shrinks, making it pull away from the retina. Usually, the connecting fibers break, but if they don’t, they can pull the retina away from its underlying tissues.

Advanced diabetic retinopathy may cause abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina. These vessel leak blood and fluid, which builds up under the retina and can cause enough pressure to cause a retinal detachment.

A blow or injury to your face or head could be strong enough to tear the retina. Additionally, people with high levels of nearsightedness are at risk for retinal detachment.

What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment usually doesn’t cause pain, so you won’t have that symptom to alert you to the problem. You’ll develop symptoms such as:

  • Sudden appearance of many floaters
  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes
  • Sudden blurry vision
  • Gradual loss of side vision
  • Curtain-like shadow over your visual field

How is retinal detachment treated?

Retinal tears must be treated by reattaching the retina back to the underlying RPE. Laser surgery typically accomplishes that goal.

Your doctor at Retina & Macular Disease Specialists uses a laser to make controlled burns around the retinal tear, which seals the retina to the underlying tissue. It also stops fluid from traveling under the retina, helping to prevent future detachment.

Other treatment methods include:

  • Vitrectomy: Vitreous is removed and replaced with another substance to keep retina in place
  • Freezing (cryopexy): Freezes retina to the underlying tissue
  • Scleral buckle: Flexible band counteracts pressure against the retina; allows retina to reattach