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he medical definition of retinal detachment is separation of the retina from underlying layers of blood vessels. When a retina detaches, it separates itself from part of its blood supply. Without adequate circulation, the retina cannot work properly. Unless the retina is reattached, permanent damage may occur.
What causes retinal detachment?
Retinal detachment usually starts in a very small area, normally following a retinal tear. If this area is not repaired, the entire retina can eventually detach. This type of condition occurs more often in those who are nearsighted (myopic) or those who have had cataract surgery. Tears are commonly caused by eye injury. In addition, blood and fluids from any surrounding blood vessels may build up between the retina and underlying tissues, making the condition worse.
Symptoms of Retinal Detachment
The detachment of the retina is painless, but often creates what are known as floaters or objects that seemed to float around in the eye. These floaters are called vitreous floaters, and are composed of small bits of material that float around the vitreous gel that fills the inside of the eye. Flashes of bright light in a person's vision are also often noted. Retinal detachment also causes a decrease or loss in peripheral vision, and then that vision loss spreads into center or central vision as the condition worsens. Many people liken the loss of vision as a curtain falling over their line of sight. In cases where the macula also detaches, vision can deteriorate rapidly, and objects appear blurred.
In most cases, a doctor can diagnose a retinal detachment through the use of an ophthalmoscope. In some cases, the actual detachment cannot be seen, and your ophthalmologist or optometrist may recommend an ultrasound scan of the eye. A detached retina is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can lead to a permanent vision loss. Retinal detachment is more common in middle-aged and older individuals.
Retinal Detachment Treatment
It is extremely important for anyone who experiences a sudden loss of vision to see their ophthalmologist right away. Laser surgery or freezing therapy known as cryotherapy may be performed, depending on the cause of the detachment. Cryotherapy is generally performed on holes that have not yet caused a detachment. Freezing probes that form scar tissues permanently seal those holes or breaks. Another therapy, called laser photocoagulation, is also used. Each of these therapies is designed to repair the retina. Laser surgery literally seals holes in the retina, while freezing therapy causes scar formations, which hold the retina in place. These procedures can be performed in a doctor’s office with local anesthetic. However, if the retina has begun to pull away from the choroid layer of the eye, and the resulting gap has filled with fluid, scleral buckling may be recommended. This procedure creates a hole to drain the fluid out of the retina so that it returns to its normal position up against the choroid. The hole is then sealed and the white of the eye, known as the sclera, is tucked or slightly indented in order to assure better contact with the retina. The sclera is then secured with a silicone stitched around the circumference of the eyeball. Repairs done to the retina at the early stage of deterioration offer the greatest improvement of vision. Treatment options for first require an examination, in which the individual will have their pupils dilated. Then, the ophthalmologist can use the ophthalmoscope to determine the extent of the detachment, location of any holes, and the best approach to the problem. The ultimate goal of any treatment options is to repair rips or tears in the retina and prevent further tears.
How much does Treatment for Retinal Detachment cost?
Treatments for retinal detachment depend on the method utilized. In the U.S. costs for treatments or surgery can average $5,000 to $20,000 per eye after anesthesia, surgeon and hospital care costs. Cases of scleral buckling and freezing can bring costs up to $25,000. In foreign destinations, treatment options in other countries such as Mexico or Thailand may enjoy savings of between 35% and 50% on costs incurred in the U.S.
Who Performs Treatments?
An ophthalmologist should be licensed and trained and certified to perform eye surgical procedures. He or she should also be trained to use of laser and ultrasound equipment. Medical licensing in the United States is by local, state, and national medical boards. A good choice would be a doctor who is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, or one who is associated with an academic medical center as they are more apt to be trained in new or advanced procedures.
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