A retinal tear or detachment is generally related to a common ocular phenomenon: vitreous detachment. This is a common condition that causes no symptoms. Vitreous detachment consists of the liquefaction of the vitreous, the transparent jelly-like substance inside the eyeball. It occurs with age but can sometimes affect very near-sighted people and eyes that have suffered injury. Floaters may appear when vitreous detachment occurs. These are collagen fibres that become mobile with the liquefaction of the vitreous. The interaction between the vitreous body and the retina can cause flashing lights to appear for a fraction of a second. If you see jagged rays of light lasting 10 to 20 minutes, these are normally symptoms of ophthalmic migraines. If there is a sudden occurrence of floaters or flashing lights, it is important to consult an eye care professional in order to undergo a retinal examination with pupil dilation.
A tear occurs when there is strong adhesion of the vitreous gel to the retina. The retina is the layer of light-sensitive cells that line the back, inside wall of the eye. If you imagine the eye like a camera, then the retina would be the film. When the vitreous shrinks, it can pull on the surface of the retina and create a tear. The retina is not detached, only torn. In order to avoid complications and retinal detachment, laser photocoagulation is practised to heal the retinal tissues around the tear and stop its progression.
If the tear progresses, liquid can infiltrate and accumulate behind the retina and cause its detachment. Retinal detachment can lead to increased perception of floaters, flashing lights and a veil or curtain obstructing vision. Once again, it is important to consult an eye care professional as soon as these symptoms occur. Surgery may be required to reposition the detached retina.
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