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What is Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment is an eye disorder in which the retina (the light receptive layer at the back of the eye) is pulled away from its normal position. In retinal detachment, the retina becomes separated from the underlying choroid (layer of blood vessels that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the retina), leaving the retinal cells deprived of oxygen. If not treated early, this condition can cause permanent vision loss.

Complications of retinal detachment often occur that prevent a retina from healing. The two most common complications are severe Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy (PVR) and advanced Tractional Retinal Detachment (TRD).

Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy (PVR)

PVR is the most common complication of a retinal detachment and occurs when a scar develops underneath or on the surface of the retina preventing the retina from healing and reattaching.

PVR occurs due to the failure of retinal reattachment. When there is a tear in the retina, the cells underlying the retina (Retinal pigment epithelial or RPE cells) traverse through the retinal tear and settle on the surface of the retina and also enter into the vitreous cavity. These cells proliferate (multiply) forming a scar. The newly formed scar tissue contracts and pulls the retina away from its underlying layers causing a second retinal detachment. The factors that increase the risk of PVR include high degree myopia (near-sightedness), family history and cataract surgery.

Tractional Retinal Detachment (TRD)

When the retina and the vitreous (gel-like substance inside the eye) tightly bind together causing a detachment, it is referred to as tractional retinal detachment or TRD. This occurs in people with abnormal growth of blood vessels (such as with uncontrolled diabetes), previous retinal surgery, or chronic inflammation. TRD occurs if the vitreous pulls at the retinal layer or there is the formation of scar tissue or growth of other abnormal tissue on the retinal surface that pulls the retina away from the underlying layers of tissue.

Early detection and treatment is the key to preventing vision loss. Retinectomy is the surgical procedure that is performed to treat a complicated retinal detachment.

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