Retinal detachment: early warning signs can save sight

Author: Ivanhoe Newswire
Published: Updated:
Eye doctor points out the condition. (Ivanhoe Newswire photo)
Eye doctor points out the condition. (Ivanhoe Newswire photo)

Retinal detachment happens when an injury causes the retina to peel away from the wall of the eye. It can happen quickly, or a small tear can continue to progress over time until the retina detaches. Early detection can save your sight.

“My face looked … it was so used to being abused. Pow, pow, slap, kick, scratch. Anything that you think of that someone can do physically was done to this,” Regina Overton shared with Ivanhoe.

Regina is an actress in the urban web series, Rapstar. But until recently, Regina could barely read her lines. She is a domestic abuse survivor. Years of trauma took a toll.

Regina developed retinal detachment in both eyes. The retina is the tissue at the back of the eye that reflects light. A tear can cause blurred vision and needs to be treated right away.

Gennady Landa, MD, with New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai says, “If only a retinal hole or retinal tear develop, we are able to fix it by doing laser and usually majority of patients don’t develop retinal detachment.”

With a retinal detachment, fluid passes through the tear, and lifts the retina off the back of the eye. People who are very nearsighted or those with advanced diabetes may have a higher risk. Warning signs include loss of vision, seeing flashing lights, or “floaters”.

Years ago, Regina’s abuser convinced her to delay treatment. She is now blind in the right eye. Two years ago she noticed changes in the left eye and scheduled surgery quickly.

“In her case, we were amazed by her recovery,” Dr. Landa continued.

“It gave me back my life,” Regina exclaimed.

Dr. Landa says retinal detachment can occur weeks or months after the initial injury, so it’s important for people who have had facial injuries to recognize the warning signs and seek treatment. She says surgeons were able to restore 95 percent of the vision in Regina’s left eye.

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