lies at the back of the eye and is made up of two layers -- the sensory retina and the retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE. The sensory retina contains millions of light-sensitive cells and is supported by the underlying layer of RPE behind the sensory retina. The retina's function is to receive optical images
, "develop" them by changing them into impulses and transmit the impulses through the optic nerve to the brain.
occurs when the two retinal layers separate. The sensory retina pulls away from its underlying support tissue (RPE), allowing fluid build up between the two layers. Retinal tears can also cause fluid to collect under the retina and result in retinal detachment. Retinal detachments disrupt the entire visual process and can progress to blindness.
that precede retinal detachment include blurred vision, flashing lights in one or both eyes
, and/or the appearance of "floaters." Floaters are dark or gray spots or lines that seem to float across your field of vision. Vision may also become clouded, as if a shadow or curtain is dropping over a part of the visual field. Retinal detachment is painless
, making it critical to heed the warning signs.
Peripheral, or side, vision is affected first and as a result, vision loss may not be noticed right away. Without treatment
, the detachment can spread to the center of the retina and damage central vision. Retinal detachment is considered an eye emergency and requires immediate care. Otherwise, vision loss can progress from minor to severe and even to blindness within just a few hours or days.
The only treatment
available for retinal detachment is surgery which can
, in some cases, restore good vision. Several procedures may be necessary before the effect of the surgery can be determined. Once the detachment is repaired
, vision is usually stabilized. Positive visual outcome is more likely when intervention occurs quickly, and the retinal detachment has not affected central vision.
of this condition for daily activities vary according to the degree of vision loss that is sustained. Environmental adaptations, non-sighted communication tools
, and assistive devices may be appropriate.
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Romito, Kathleen and Rudnisky, Christopher. (October 22, 2009). Retinal Detachment. In WebMD. Retrieved June 20, 2011, from http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/tc/retinal-detachment-topic-overview
[Untitled photograph of a retina]. Retrieved June 18, 2011, from: http://www.mvretina.com/education/6.html