Retinal detachment occurs when the light-sensitive, multi-layered tissue at the inner back surface of the eyeball (retina) tears or is pushed away from supporting layers that contain nourishing blood vessels (choroid). A break, tear, or hole in the retina usually precedes detachment. Detachment may occur suddenly as gel-like fluids within the eye (vitreous humor) leak beneath the retina (rhegmatogenous detachment) separating it from the choroid. Retinal detachment also can result when the vitreous gel inside the eye degenerates, contracts, and liquefies with aging, causing it to pull on the retina and tear it away from the choroid (traction retinal detachment). The retina also may detach if there is an increase of fluid in the space behind the retina (subretinal space) that forces the retina away from the choroid (serous detachment) (Garg).
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Because retinal cells degenerate and die if separated from oxygen and nutrients provided by the choroid, treatment must begin as soon as possible to restore and preserve vision. Central vision may be affected if the center portion of the eye responsible for detailed vision (macula) becomes detached. Without prompt reattachment of the retina through surgery, vision loss will be permanent.
Risk: Individuals between the ages of 40 and 70, those who are very nearsighted (myopic), and those who have undergone cataract removal surgery are most likely to develop retinal detachment (Larkin). Retinal detachment may be associated with direct eye trauma. Individuals between the ages of 25 and 45 who participate in certain sports (e.g., bungee jumping, boxing) are at higher risk for retinal trauma that can result in detachment (Larkin). Retinal detachment also is associated with diabetes, metabolic disorders, abnormal eye structures, vascular disease, intraocular inflammation (sarcoid uveitis), and eye tumors.
Incidence and Prevalence: Retinal detachment occurs in 10 to 12.5 of 100,000 population annually (Larkin). In younger individuals, the male: female ratio for retinal detachment is 3:2 (Larkin).
Source: Medical Disability Advisor