When you think of emergencies, the first things to come to mind might be broken bones and concussion. But another emergency situation that can happen to anyone at any time is a detached retina. If you have surgery right away, this problem can usually be corrected, but if you don't get treatment quickly, you may suffer from permanent vision blindness. To keep yourself and those around you safe, it's important to know the basics about detached retinas.
How do you know if you have a detached retina?
You won't have pain when your retina detaches, and the symptoms you do have may come on quite suddenly. Your visual field may go mostly blank, or you might see flashes of color and light in one or both eyes. Sudden blurry vision can also be a symptoms of retinal detachment, and some people feel like a curtain is being pulled down over their visual field.
Who is at risk of a detached retina?
Anyone can suffer a detached retina. Sometimes you may suffer an injury in a car accident or sports accident and mildly tear your retina, not realizing it, and then it might detach completely later on. You're at an increased risk if you:
What should you do if you have a detached retina?
Don't drive yourself to the ER. Even if you can see somewhat effectively by closing one eye, this is not safe. Call a friend to drive you, or call 911, and head to the emergency room right away. If your eye doctor's office is closer than the ER and they're open, you can go there to be checked out instead.
What will they do for you if your retina is detached?
Sometimes other conditions may mimic those of a detached retina. So, there's a chance that you'll arrive at the ER and find out you're just having a migraine. Your eye doctor or the ER doctor can tell pretty quickly by looking into your eye with a microscope whether your retina is intact or not.
If you do have a detached retina, you need to have surgery to repair it – probably within a few hours to a day. Retina re-attachment surgery is quite routine, and it should restore your vision as long as you caught the issue quickly.
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