Retinal Detachment and other Retinal Diseases

Eyesight is an important part of a human’s life. This is why it is important to take care of it. Here at The Sight Clinic in London, we are focusing on eye conditions, such as retinal detachment or other retinal diseases.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is a very serious condition that can lead to sight loss if not treated promptly. The retina is a light-sensitive layer of the eye. It sends visual messages to the brain.

When retinal detachment occurs, the retina separates from underlying blood vessels that supply the retina with oxygen and nutrition.

There are different symptoms that occur when having retinal detachment. The vision can be distracted by the sudden appearance of floats, black dots, flashes of light, blurring or disorientation.

To avoid irrevisable changes of the retina, retinal detachment needs to be treated immediately.

What are floaters?

In order for us to see, light pass from the front of the eye, through the lens which focuses the light onto the retina. The vitreous is a structure that is located in front of the retina. Early in life, the vitreous is a firm gel-like structure. With time, it becomes more liquid in nature. This process is called vitreous syneresis.

However, not all part of the vitreous becomes liquid. Some aspects remain more solid and are not translucent. These vitreous veils cast a shadow on the retina and this causes the symptoms of floaters.

Floaters can also arise from bleeding into the vitreous, which may occur when a retinal tear forms and may result in a retinal detachment. If you develop a sudden increase in floaters, which may be accompanied by flashing lights, you must seek the help of an eye doctor urgently.

There are other causes of floaters including the slow accumulation of a crystalline substance in the vitreous called asteroid hyalosis. This is harmless. Patients with inflammation in the eye can also develop floaters.

About 1% of the population develop symptoms of floaters and the most common cause is vitreous syneresis. Although floaters themselves are not harmful to the eye, they can cause troublesome symptoms – especially when performing tasks such a driving, reading or outdoor activities in bright light such as golf or tennis. The floaters move around the eye causing variable symptoms of visual blurring.

What can I do if I develop floaters?

Most people will learn to ignore the floaters and lead a good quality of life. The floaters can move to an area within the eye where they do not obstruct the central visual axis and the symptoms are less troublesome.

Certain types of floaters may need to be removed with a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. However, some floaters can be managed with a laser procedure called laser vitreolysis.

What is laser vitreolysis?

A Yttrium Aluminium Garnate (YAG) laser is used to disrupt and cut the opaque vitreous strands into much smaller fragments. The floaters are not removed from the eye but can be displaced into the inferior vitreous where they are less apparent or made much smaller, so they are not so noticeable.

What are the risks of laser vitreolysis?

This is a safe and non-invasive procedure. There is no pain during the procedure and it is very well tolerated by patients. The energy used is minimal so the risks to the eye are very rare. There is a small risk of inflammation in the eye in response to the energy liberated by the laser. This can be treated by eye drops for a week. Any procedure on the vitreous can result in a retinal tear which can cause a retinal detachment, however, this is an extremely rare event following YAG laser treatment.

Important points to remember:

Floaters are common and are usually harmless. Although initially troublesome, they can become less obvious with time.

A sudden onset of floaters requires an urgent eye examination, especially if associated with flashing lights or a curtain like area of visual loss in the periphery of your vision.

Persistent floaters can be treated safely with YAG vitreolysis in patients who have floaters that are suitable for treatment with this laser.

Other retinal conditions we are treating are:

Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can cause loss of visual acuity, loss of contrast sensitivity, distortion of central vision.
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Diabetic eye disease

Symptoms of diabetic eye diseases are blurring of vision, distortion of vision, black spots and floaters in the vision, sudden loss of vision, retinal bleeding.
Read more »

Retinal vein occlusion

Retinal vein occlusion can be causing a sudden change in vision. This can either be a partial or complete vision loss in one eye.
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Laser treatment for floaters

Floaters are common and initially troublesome, but they can become less obvious with time. Although they are usually harmless they should be treated.
Read more »