Are you experiencing partial vision loss, blurry vision, random flashes of light, and other types of vision distortions?
You may have a retinal tear that requires immediate medical treatment.
Retinal Tears Require Immediate Medical Attention
If you're experiencing vision problems and think you may have a retinal tear, contact our office as soon as possible to request a consultation. If left untreated, retinal tears can lead to retinal detachment and permanent vision loss. Request a consultation at one of our greater Kansas City area offices for treatment.
What is a retinal tear?
A retinal tear is a small break in the inner lining of your eye. Your retina can tear before it detaches completely. Retinal detachment and tears are a severe medical emergency and should be treated immediately to prevent further damage to the retinal area.
What causes retinal tears?
Tears in the retina are most often caused by a clear gel-like fluid called vitreous tugging on the retina. Vitreous fills the back of the eye, lined by the retina. At birth, the vitreous is attached to the retina but separates with age, a natural condition known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).
This separation doesn't cause a problem for most people, but for some, retinal detachment or a tear can occur from the process of PVD. When the vitreous gel clings to the retina, the separation may cause a tear.
Retinal Tear vs. Retinal Detachment
For some patients, their retina will tear before it detaches completely. Retinal holes can also occur. A retinal tear isn't as severe as retinal detachment, but the tear should be treated immediately to prevent progression into retinal detachment. Both retinal tears and retinal detachment have similar symptoms and can result in permanent vision loss.
Signs You May Have a Retinal Tear
Immediate action is essential to treat a retinal tear. However, what are the signs that indicate a retinal tear? If you see any of these symptoms, seek medical attention at one of our Kansas offices right away:
- Flashes of Light
- Floaters in Your Vision
- Black Spots in Your Vision
- Dimmer Vision
- Shadows in Your Peripheral Vision
- Blurry Vision
The Danger of Ignoring a Retinal Tear
If a retinal tear is not treated immediately, it can progress to retinal detachment, which has a higher chance of blindness.
Complete Vision Loss
If ignored for too long, even surgery won't be able to correct the problem. Blindness can result from a lack of treatment.
Retinal Tear Risk Factors
While anyone can develop a retinal tear, certain people are more likely to develop the condition than others. Risk factors include:
- Advanced age
- Degree of myopia (nearsightedness)
- Associated lattice degeneration
- Family history of retinal detachment or tears
- Prior eye surgery
How to Prevent Retinal Tears
Retinal tears are often caused by natural aging, leaving no way to prevent it. However, some people experience retinal detachment and tears due to accidents and physical trauma. When engaging in physical, high-risk activities, you can prevent trauma-induced retinal tears by protecting your eyes with safety goggles or protective eye gear.
Diagnosing a Retinal Tear
The first step in diagnosing a retinal tear is scheduling an eye exam with our doctors. During your exam, the doctor may use the following techniques to view and diagnose your retinal condition:
- Retinal Exam
Often doctors can detect a retinal tear from a simple retinal exam. The doctor will use a device that allows them to see the back of the eye to diagnose any tears, holes, or detachment the retina has.
- Ultrasound Imaging
If bleeding is present in the eye, the retina may be more challenging to view in-depth and clearly. In this case, ultrasound imaging can be used to see the retina without the obstruction of blood.
- Follow-Up Diagnosis
If the vitreous has begun to separate but no tear is present, the doctor may recommend you join us for another appointment in a few weeks to check up on the state of your eye.
- Check Both Eyes
Even if you arrive with symptoms only in one eye, our doctors will check both of your eyes to see if a retinal tear is present or if there's a chance of a delayed retinal tear.
- Laser Treatment
Laser surgery at our offices serving Shawnee Mission can help many patients. With lasers, scars made near the retinal tear help fuse the tissue back together. This procedure is a noninvasive treatment that is virtually painless, thanks to local anesthesia.
With a vitrectomy, the vitreous gel that fills the eye is removed, and air, a gas bubble, or silicone oil is injected in its place. Silicone oil will need to be later removed, but other injected material will naturally be replaced with your body's fluid.
Cryotherapy is the process of freezing over the tear in the retina rather than using a laser. Like laser treatment, however, scar tissue will result from the freezing, which helps seal the torn portion of the retina back into position along the patient's eyewall.
Picking the Right Treatment
The doctors at Retina Associates will act quickly to attach the torn retinal tissue to the back of the eye. The exact treatment our doctors will use will depend on the extent and nature of the tear and how the issue can best be resolved to prevent further loss of vision.
Since a torn retina increases the risk of retinal detachment, our doctors may suggest additional treatment, which may include replacing the vitreous gel through a vitrectomy.
All of our offices in the greater Kansas City, KS, area can address your immediate eye care concerns while looking ahead to protect your eyesight in the future.
The Cost of Treatment
Retinal tears are medically necessary procedures that need to be treated with immediate intervention. Without treatment, retinal tears can result in permanent vision loss, so don't let money be the reason you go untreated. Our office accepts insurance and financing to make getting treatment not a choice but a necessity.
Retinal tear surgery is never an elective procedure, which means it is covered by insurance. Our office wants you to receive treatment immediately, which is why we accept most insurance providers.
If you don't have medical insurance, our office accepts CareCredit® financing to split the cost of treatment into monthly installments with no interest or a low interest fee.
Retinal detachment is a medical emergency that if left untreated can cause vision loss in a relatively short time.
Quick treatment can possibly save your sight, but time is of the essence for treatment.
What should I do?
If you have noticed a change in your vision, Retina Associates can help. You can contact your physician for a referral or call us directly.
Retinal Associates is the largest group of retina specialists in the Greater Kansas City area and has offices throughout Kansas and Missouri so we are nearby.
- Act Quickly
Time is important to prevent further damage to your eye. When done promptly, surgery can restore vision.
- Don't Worry about Insurance
Retinal detachment is a medical emergency that is covered by a patient's medical insurance. It is not an elective procedure.
- Trust in a High Success Rate
The initial success rate of retinal reattachment ranges from 63% to 94%, depending on the technique used.
What are symptoms of retinal detachment?
Floaters, tiny specks that drift through your field of vision, suddenly appear in abundance.
Flashes of light appear in either one or both of your eyes.
A curtain-like shadow appears over your field of vision.
Your vision blurs.
- Tunnel Vision
Your peripheral vision is reduced.
Have you noticed a change in your vision?
If you have noticed vision loss, especially if you have risk factors for retinal detachment, contact your physician for a referral or call us directly. This eye care treatment is a medical emergency and is covered by medical insurance. Waiting could cause further vision loss, even blindness.
We accept new patients every day, and urgent or emergency referrals are seen the same day.
What is retinal detachment?
Retinal detachment happens when the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye, the retina, pulls away from the eye wall. When this happens, it loses its connection to the blood vessels that provide oxygen to the tissue.
If the detachment isn't treated quickly, more tissue can detach, which increases the risk of permanent blindness.
What causes retinal detachment?
There are typically three scenarios:
- Rhegmatogenous Detachment
This is the most common type of retinal detachment. Meaning "arising from a break or rupture", a rhegmatogenous detachment is caused when a hole or tear allows fluid to collect under the retina, separating it from the underlying tissue. The portion that separates loses its blood vessels, blood supply, and oxygen and then stops working, which causes vision loss in the area.
Aging is the most common reason for this type of retinal damage. With age, the gel-like fluid in your eye, the vitreous, can shrink or become more liquid. Vitreous usually flows freely in the eye as it moves. But sometimes, the vitreous can tug at the eye, causing a tear that allows liquid to seep in behind and cause the retinal detachment.
This type of retinal detachment occurs when scar tissue grows on the retinal tissue and creates traction, causing it to pull away from the back of the eye. Medical conditions may put people at risk of tractional detachment. For example, people who have poorly controlled diabetes may suffer from diabetic retinopathy, a form of tractional retinal detachment.
Exudative retinal detachment is rare. In this scenario, a fluid also known as exudate accumulates under the retinal tissue even though there are no holes or tears. It can affect both eyes. The cause for the fluid buildup can be caused by age-related macular degeneration, an injury to the eye, tumors, inflammatory disorders, or a wide range of diseases.
Can you diagnose retinal detachment at a routine eye exam?
Yes, Retina Associates can diagnose retinal detachment during a routine eye exam at our eye care offices in locations like Lenexa, Shawnee Mission, and Kansas City.
Our eye care professionals can determine if you are suffering from this condition through eye dilation.
Eye dilation involves using drops to dilate your pupils, so that your eye doctor can see how light enters your eye and how it reflects on the back of the eye.
It also has the added benefit of revealing problems such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Early Detection Is Key
Retinal detachment can worsen dramatically over time, even causing permanent vision loss.
However, the earlier you are diagnosed, the more treatment options you have.
You will also likely experience a better outcome, since the effects of retinal detachment will have less time to progress.
Treatment can involve gas bubble injections, a scleral buckle, and other effective options.