Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment is an ophthalmological emergency – the retina detaches from the underlying tissue, which, if left untreated, can lead to irreparable damage. Retinal conditions such as retinal detachment should always be taken seriously because our retina is crucial for vision.

What are the causes of retinal detachment?

The causes of retinal detachment are many and varied. The most common cause of retinal detachment is a tear to the retina as a result of acute posterior vitreous detachment. Furthermore, it often occurs in short-sightedness, but also after injuries, infections, eye operations, and in the case of eye tumours and other diseases.

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What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?

In the event of retinal detachment, symptoms such as perceived light flashes, black spots, a dark curtain or restricted field of vision may occur. If you experience these symptoms, consult your ophthalmologist immediately.

How is retinal detachment diagnosed?

The ophthalmologist will examine the ocular fundus (back of the eye). For this, eye drops must be used to enlarge the pupils.

How is retinal detachment operated on?

In the case of a retinal detachment, an operation is unavoidable. In the event of a tear-related retinal detachment, the chances of recovery are however good. Nowadays, many highly specialised surgical techniques are available for treatment. As a result, the chances of recovery have significantly improved.

Retinal holes and thinning of the retina constitute a preliminary stage of retinal detachment and can be sealed by the ophthalmologist via lasering. Scar tissue thus forms at the treatment site, which results in the joining of the retina with the underlying tissue. A retinal detachment can no longer occur in this area.

If the age-related shrinking of the vitreous body pulls at the retina resulting in a hole with surrounding retinal detachment, the eyeball is artificially dented. For this purpose, the operating ophthalmologist stitches a silicone foam seal onto the sclera, or the entire eyeball is fitted with a silicone band, so-called cerclage. This allows the retina and underlying tissue to regain contact and grow together.

Nowadays, the surgical procedure is usually performed inside the eye. In this case, the vitreous body pulling on the retina is removed. The retina can relax and lie back in position. To support the process – that is to say, to provide the retina with hold – gas or silicone oil is usually introduced into the eye.

Today, almost all retinal detachments are surgically treatable using the operating techniques outlined above.

Do you have symptoms of retinal detachment?