What is retinal detachment?
The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of your eye. It’s responsible for receiving light and translating it into electrical signals to send to the brain, where it creates the images we see.
Sometimes the retina can detach or lift from its position, becoming separated from its blood supply that provides it with essential nutrients and oxygen – this is known as retinal detachment.
Although this is a more serious eye condition, it can be treated in its varying stages. It’s usually related to changes in the eye as we age, so regular eye tests are essential for early detection and prevention.
What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?
- Flashes of light in the eye
- A sudden increase in the number of floaters in one eye – it might look like there’s a cobweb across your vision
- Appearance of a curtain coming across your vision – this could mean the retina is detaching
Without early treatment, retinal detachment could lead to permanent vision loss in the affected eye. So if you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important that you see an eyecare professional as soon as possible.
What causes retinal detachment?
There are a few causes of retinal detachment, including:
- A tear or hole in the retina (this is the most common cause)
- A fluid build-up under the retina caused by an eye injury or trauma
- Scar tissue within the eye that can pull the retina
Risk factors of retinal detachment
Retinal detachment can happen at any age, but it’s more likely to occur in people who:
- Are over 40
- Are very short sighted (myopia)
- Have had cataract surgery
- Have suffered an injury, or direct blow to the eye
- Have had a retinal detachment in the other eye
- Have a family history of retinal detachment
Treating retinal detachment
If your optician suspects that you have a retinal detachment, they will refer you to the hospital, immediately, or to see a specialist for further investigation. Having an OCT scan alongside a comprehensive eye examination could help to detect signs of retinal detachment early, which may prevent more serious outcomes.
Treatment will normally depend on the extent of the detachment or tear. There are a number of surgical procedures that involve sealing any tears, reducing the pull on the retina, or moving it back into position for reattachment. Your optician or surgeon will be able to talk you through treatment options in more detail.
The earlier a retinal detachment can be treated, the greater the chances of restoring good vision. That’s why regular eye tests are so important. If you have any concerns about any symptoms you’re experiencing, come in and see us or your GP as soon as possible.
Contact lenses after retinal detachment surgery
You can usually wear contact lenses after your eye has completely healed from retinal detachment surgery. After your surgery, you will be prescribed eye drops or ointments which are to be used for 4-8 weeks. Not all of these medications are compatible with contact lenses, so you may not be able to wear lenses during that time. The amount of time it takes for you to be able to wear contacts again will often depend on the type of procedure you’ve had too.
You may also have a change in your prescription following retinal detachment surgery. For example, a scleral buckle procedure can increase myopia (short-sightedness) and/or astigmatism.1 This means the prescription for your contact lenses will change. It may be a few weeks to months before your vision stabilises, but this is completely normal after this surgery. You should wait for your ophthalmologist to tell you when to get a new prescription and start using contact lenses again (this will typically be in 6-8 weeks).
If you’re interested in learning more about eye care and contact lenses, head over to our contact lens hub for more information.