What Causes Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment is an emergency complication affecting the retina, or the thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that normally covers the back of the eye. There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the retina detaching or peeling away from the back wall of the eye. At California Retina Associates, our San Diego retinal detachment team’s objective is to identify what has caused your particular complication and quickly determine the safest way to correct the problem. With swift diagnosis and treatment intervention, we have the best chances of saving your eyesight. Otherwise, this very serious complication can lead to irreversible damage.

Common Causes of Retinal Detachment

The eye is filled with a transparent, jelly-like substance called vitreous. In a healthy eye, this vitreous is loosely attached to the retina and can move away from the retina when the eye moves without causing any problems. However, sometimes the vitreous tugs at the retina, creating tiny holes or tears in the retina. Liquid can then find its way through the tear or hole and collect under the retina, peeling it away from its normal position along the back wall of the eye and away from the layer of blood vessels that nourish and oxygenate it. The separation of the retina from the underlying layer of blood vessels is called a retinal detachment. As the retina detaches from its blood supply, it stops working and vision loss occurs.

But how does this separation happen? Sometimes the vitreous pulls on the retina because of changes related to the normal aging process. Over time, the vitreous can change consistency, forming clumps or strands that tug on the retina with enough force to cause it to detach. In other cases, inflammation inside the eye or extreme nearsightedness causes the vitreous to tug on the retina.

Other cases of retinal detachment occur when scar tissue develops on the surface of the retina and contracts, separating the retina from the layer of cells that nourishes it.

Another potential cause of retinal detachment is certain eye diseases, including inflammatory diseases and traumatic injuries, which cause fluid to leak into the area beneath the retina without a tear or a hole in the retina.

Complications from advanced diabetes can also cause retinal detachment.

Risk Factors for Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can affect people of all ages, although it tends to be more common in people over the age of 40. More men than women are affected.

Some of the risk factors for retinal detachment include the following:

  • Previous cataract surgery
  • Family history of retinal detachment
  • Extreme myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Retinal detachment in the other eye
  • Severe injury to the eye
  • Previous eye disease or inflammation

Contact California Retina Associates

No matter the cause of retinal detachment, San Diego eye doctors at California Retina Associates can diagnose and treat it quickly to preserve vision and prevent blindness. If you are experiencing changes in your vision, especially floaters or flashes of light that could indicate retinal detachment, don’t hesitate to contact us by calling (619) 425-7755 or (760) 352-7755. We offer three convenient office locations serving the entire San Diego County area and beyond to answer your questions about retinal detachment.