Your retinas are essential to your vision. The process of seeing objects and people in front of you is really a matter of light passing through your retinas to the optic nerve and then to the brain. A torn or detached retina, if left untreated, can result in partial or total blindness in the affected eye. However, if you can spot the problem early and get treatment quickly, full vision can be restored with minimally invasive surgery and a fairly short recovery time.


    Almost everyone experiences floaters, those tiny, squiggly black or translucent shapes that you hardly notice as you focus past them on the subject at hand throughout your day. However, an increase in floaters can indicate a problem with your retina. Similarly, seeing flashing lights can be an indicator of a retinal problem.

    What’s happening in your eye when you see flashes and floaters? If you’re seeing strands or spots in your vision, you may have condensation in the vitreous gel attached to your retina. If you’re seeing flashing lights — like lightning bolts or strobes — the vitreous gel has most likely leaked through a tear in the retina and is causing pressure on the retina.

    Some patients have described a change in vision, such as a shadow around their peripheral vision or blurred vision. This can sometimes be mistaken for the onset of a migraine, though the auras you may see that resemble those of an oncoming migraine will usually only be seen in one eye. Do not ignore these symptoms.


    If you notice any or all of these symptoms, schedule an eye exam immediately. Be sure to tell the receptionist about your symptoms when you call and express that you’re experiencing a potential emergency. Your eye doctor will understand that this is a pressing matter and should be able to schedule you in quickly.

    Your ophthalmologist will dilate your eyes to examine both retinas to ensure that they are healthy and that there hasn’t been a tear or detachment in one or both. If you do have a detached retina, they will recommend one of several treatments.


    If you catch it early enough, your eye doctor may be able to administer either cryopexy (freezing) or laser treatment in the office the same day that you have your retinal exam. With minor tears or detachments, this is all that’s necessary, though you’ll need to go in for a follow-up visit to ensure that everything has healed properly.

    For small tears, your ophthalmologist may recommend undergoing a pneumatic retinoplexy, in which a small gas bubble is injected into the vitreous gel, where it will apply pressure to the retina, helping to close the tear so that it can heal.

    In more severe cases, a scleral buckle may be sewn onto the white of the eye to apply pressure to the tear until it heals. If the tear is very large, a vitrectomy is performed, and the vitreous gel is actually removed and replaced with a saline solution.

    By paying attention to early symptoms and getting regular eye exams, you can avoid loss of vision and keep your retinas healthy.

    Call Silverstein Eye Centers today to make an appointment for an eye exam.

    Posted August 5, 2014 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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