Retinal ablation is the detachment of the retina from the back of the eye. This condition is classified as an emergency and must be dealt with immediately. Otherwise, retinal detachment can cause permanent blindness.
The retina is a thin layer at the back of the eye. This layer works to process the light captured by the eye. The light that has been captured will be converted into an electrical signal and passed on to the brain which will translate the signal into an image.
A retina that is out of position can cause vision to be disturbed. The disorder can occur partially or completely, depending on how large the part of the retina is detached.
Retinal ablation can happen to anyone, but it is more common in people over the age of 50.
Types and Causes of Retinal Ablation
Retinal ablation occurs when the retina of the eye is detached from the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients. Based on the mechanism that causes the detachment of the retina of the eye, retinal ablation is divided into three types, namely:
Rhegmatogenous retinal ablation
Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment is the most common type of retinal detachment. This type of retinal detachment occurs when a tear in the retina causes fluid in the center of the eyeball (vitreous fluid) to seep in and accumulate behind the retina. The condition causes the retinal layer to detach from its base.
Generally, tears in rhegmatogenous retinal ablation occur due to changes in the texture of the vitreous fluid with age. Tearing can also occur due to several conditions, namely farsightedness, eye injuries, and eye surgery.
Exudative retinal detachment
Exudative retinal detachment occurs when there is fluid or blood that accumulates behind the retina until the retina detaches. However, in this type, the accumulated fluid does not cause a tear in the retina.
Accumulation of fluid generally occurs due to leakage of blood vessels or swelling at the back of the eye. The cause can be:
- Injury or trauma to the eye
- Macular degeneration
- Eye tumors
- Inflammation of the eye
- Coats disease, which is a rare disease that causes abnormalities in the development of the retina of the eye
Tractional retinal ablation
This type occurs when there is scar tissue that makes the retina pull and detach. This scar tissue is generally formed as a result of diabetic retinopathy , which is an eye disorder that occurs in people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy can cause damage to the blood vessels of the eye.
In other words, tractional retinal ablation is more often found in diabetics whose blood sugar levels are not controlled.
Risk factors for retinal detachment
There are a number of factors that can increase a person's risk of retinal detachment, namely:
- Aged above 50 years
- Have had a previous retinal detachment
- Having a family history of retinal ablation
- Suffering severe eye injuries
- Suffering from severe nearsightedness (myopia).
- Ever undergone eye surgery, such as cataract surgery
- Suffering from an eye disease, such as inflammation of the middle layer of the eye ( uveitis )
Symptoms of Retinal Ablation
Retinal ablation or retinal ablation does not cause pain. Loss of vision can occur suddenly, or be preceded by a number of symptoms below:
- There are many black spots that float in the vision ( floaters )
- Vision is blurred or obscured by shadows
- Narrow field of view
- Flashes of light in vision (photopsia)
When should you go to the doctor?
As mentioned before, retinal ablation is classified as an emergency condition. Therefore, immediately go to the doctor if you experience the symptoms that have been mentioned above, so that treatment can be done immediately. This can prevent permanent blindness.
Diagnosis of Retinal Ablation
To diagnose retinal ablation, the doctor will ask about the patient's complaints. After that, the doctor will give eye drops to dilate the patient's pupils. It should be noted that these eye drops may cause temporary discomfort in the eyes.
Next, the ophthalmologist will perform an ophthalmoscopy examination with a special tool, to see the inside of the eye. If ophthalmoscopy cannot observe the condition of the retina clearly, for example due to bleeding in the eye, the doctor will conduct an ultrasound of the eye.
Retinal Ablation Treatment
Retinal ablation treatment varies, depending on the patient's condition. If the retina is torn or holed but not yet detached, the ophthalmologist can apply some of the actions below to improve vision and prevent retinal detachment:
- Cryopexy, to freeze retinal tears so that the retina remains attached to the eye wall
- Laser therapy (photocoagulation), to burn the tissue around the retinal tear and help the retina stay attached
If the retina has been detached, the doctor will overcome it with an operative procedure. The type of operation performed depends on the severity of the patient's condition, namely:
This procedure is performed by injecting a gas bubble into the eye that will press the retina back to its normal position. This procedure is chosen if only a small part of the retina is detached.
In vitrectomy , the doctor will remove the vitreous fluid and the tissue that pulls the retina. After that, a gas or silicone bubble will be injected into the eye to hold the retina in position. Over time, gas bubbles will be replaced naturally by body fluids.
The doctor will place silicone on the outside of the white part of the eye (sclera). This silicone will bring the wall of the eyeball closer to the retina until the retina returns to its position. In severe conditions, silicone will be installed around the eyes permanently, but not obstruct vision.
Complications of Retinal Ablation
Retinal ablation that is not treated immediately can cause complications in the form of permanent blindness or only being able to distinguish between dark and light.
Patients can also experience complications due to retinal ablation treatment, such as:
- Infection or bleeding in the eye
- Recurrence of retinal detachment
Prevention of Retinal Ablation
Retinal ablation is difficult to prevent. However, the risk of this condition can be reduced through the following efforts:
- Perform routine eye examinations , at least once every 1 year, especially for diabetics
- Control sugar levels and blood pressure, so that the condition of blood vessels in the retina remains healthy
- Use eye protection when doing activities that risk injuring the eyes
- Check yourself with a doctor when floaters appear , flashes of light, or any change in the field of vision