Beware! Those flashes in eye could mean retinal detachment

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS): Sudden flashes of light in the eye, haziness and decrease in vision are some of the symptoms of retinal detachment and are not to be ignored, caution eye care experts, creating awareness on the occasion of the World Retina Week.

Retinal detachment is a condition where the retina - the light sensitive area of the eye - gets separated from its normal position, leading to deterioration in vision. The retinal tissues get detached from the layer of oxygen providing blood tissues and fail to form a clear picture.

Explaining the phenomenon of Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD), which leads to retinal detachment, Deependra V. Singh, director of Eye-Q Institute of Retina, told IANS that the centre of the eye is filled with a clear jelly, known as the vitreous, through which light passes to reach the retina.

"As you get older, the vitreous collapses and may shrink away from the retina. This may happen earlier if you are short-sighted or have an eye injury. Sometimes, this shrinking process may happen rather suddenly. This process is called PVD. The PVD can occur in three ways, and less commonly will result in the formation of a retinal tear or hole that can lead to retinal detachment," he said.

Though such detachment is more common in adults, experts say it can affect people in any age group.

According to data, up to 10 percent of myopic eyes have retinal thinning and holes in the periphery that can lead to retinal detachment. Such detachment in myopia can occur even at a young age.

Shashank Rai Gupta, head Vitreo-Retina at the Vasan Eye Care Hospital, said that retinal breaks, tears, trauma, and eye injuries are the most common causes that lead to retinal deterioration.

"People with myopia or high myopia need to be extra careful, including those who have a history of detachment in their families. Sudden flashes of light, black spots and blurry vision should not be ignored, especially by such patients," he said.

Agrees Sanjay Dhawan, director of ophthalmology at Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, who says that people with myopia should get regular eye check-up done.

"Prevention is always better than cure. If not diagnosed and treated at the right time, it can lead to blindness. Getting early medical aid and surgery is the best way. In such surgeries, holes are created to reattach the retina, which are then sealed with laser," Dhawan said.

The World Retina Week is observed from Sep 23 to 29.

Singh said that while the initial detachment could be restricted, if left untreated for a long time it can even cause blindness in the affected eye.

"If the doctor checks your eye and all is well, the floaters and flashes subside. However, further examination is needed if you suddenly develop a lot more flashes or floaters - this could be a small tear, or a shutter or curtain of blurred vision drifting across your eye, sometimes from below. To check for this, cover one eye at a time for a few seconds every day. If the uncovered eye sees well in all directions, all is well," said Singh.

Have cases of retinal detachment in India shown an increase?

"Not really," said Gupta, and added that awareness has definitely increased. "Due to increased awareness, people are getting early treatment."


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