Merrimack Eye Clinic
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1230 Bridge St., Rt. 38
Lowell, MA 01850
Tel 978-452-2100
Fax 978-446-0490
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Merrimack Eyewear
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Mon 8:00AM-6:00 PM
Tues 8:00AM-7:00 PM
Wed 8:00AM-5:00 PM
Thu 8:00AM-5:00 PM
Fri 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
Sat 8:00 AM-1:00 PM
Retinal Detachment
Definition The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. In some cases there may be small areas of the retina that are torn. These areas, called retinal tears or retinal breaks, can lead to retinal detachment.
Causes A retinal detachment can occur at any age, but it is more common in people over age 40. It affects men more than women, and Whites more than African Americans. A retinal detachment is also more likely to occur in people who:
  • Are extremely nearsighted
  • Have had a retinal detachment in the other eye
  • Have a family history of retinal detachment
  • Have had cataract surgery
  • Have other eye diseases or disorders, such as retinoschisis, uveitis, degenerative myopia, or lattice degeneration
  • Have had an eye injury
Symptoms Symptoms include a sudden or gradual increase in either the number of floaters, which are little "cobwebs" or specks that float about in your field of vision, and/or light flashes in the eye. Another symptom is the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of a retinal detachment should see an eye care professional immediately.
Effect on Vision See our Vision Simulator page on how Retinal Detachment can affect your vision.
Treatment Small holes and tears are treated with laser surgery or a freeze treatment called cryopexy. During laser surgery tiny burns are made around the hole to "weld" the retina back into place. Cryopexy freezes the area around the hole and helps reattach the retina. In some cases a scleral buckle, a tiny synthetic band, is attached to the outside of the eyeball to gently push the wall of the eye against the detached retina. If necessary, a vitrectomy may also be performed. 
More information Feel free to download some materials from our Patient Resource page.
 

The information above is courtesy of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.