The retina is the nerve layer that lines the inside of the back
of the eye. It senses light and sends images on to the brain. When the retina
is separated from the layer beneath the retina that gives it nourishment,
called the choroids, this is called retinal detachment. The retina does not
work when it is detached. This is a very serious problem and, if untreated,
almost always leads to blindness.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Most retinal detachments result from a hole or tear that develops
in the retina. The tear allows fluid to leak through and get under the retina,
separating it from the layer beneath, much like a blister. The most common
reason for a break in the retina is when the vitreous or clear jelly that fills
the middle of the eye shrinks and pulls on the retina. This may occur in one
or more places.
After the development of the retinal
tear, fluid passes through, lifting the retina off like wallpaper peeling off a
wall. Many times this occurs spontaneously, especially in older persons in
whom there may be weak spots from natural aging. Several conditions increase
the possibility of retinal detachment. These include:
a high degree of nearsightedness
previous cataract surgery
severe injury to the eye, or blunt trauma
prior retinal detachment in the opposite ey
family history of retinal detachment
tiny or weak spots in the retina that are seen by an eye doctor