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Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment Overview

written by: Victoria Trix • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 11/29/2009

Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment begins as a tear or rupture to the retina of the eye. This condition can occur at any time after trauma to the eye is experienced.

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    Signs and Symptoms

    Since rhegmatogenous retinal detachment in most cases is painless, visual symptoms normally happen prior to the actual detachment. Signs of the detachment of the retina from the eye include flashes of light in both or only one eye, sudden blurring of the vision, appearances of ‘floaters’ and a shadow or ‘curtain’ over part of the visual field. Floaters are small pieces of debris in the field of vision that appear to be spots, string or hair that float across the eyes.

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    Diagnosis

    Generally speaking, a visit to the ophthalmologist is required for diagnosis. Your eye doctor can see a hole, tear or detachment of the retina by looking at the retina directly with the ophthalmoscope. Since this instrument uses a bright light and lens to see details and three dimensions on the external and internal portions of the retina, the diagnosis can be made quickly. If there is blood in the cavity that blocks the view of a retina, ultrasound can be used for diagnosis. Ultrasonography is completely painless and is a short test that uses sound waves that are bounced off the retina through the eye. The sound that returns through the eye will give a visual picture of the internal structures of the eye on a monitor that the ophthalmologist can use for diagnosis.

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    Treatment of Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment

    The most effective treatment for rhegmatogenous retinal detachment is surgery. The ophthalmologist can tell each patient about the risks and benefits of the surgery or other treatment options based on the severity of the tear as well as many other factors. If the tear or hole is treated prior to detachment, or if the detachment is treated before the macula detaches, the retention of most vision is expected.

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    Risks or Possible Complications

    Risks associated with rhegmatogenous retinal detachment include irreparable and complete vision loss, as well as the need for assistance with daily life activities due to the loss of vision. Complications of ignoring the first signs and symptoms of an oncoming detachment would include the actual detachment, blood in the field of vision as well as blind spots and even death of the eye if the source of bleeding is not found and treated. Many people do not experience death of the eye, but it is possible if left untreated. Surgery is not always successful for reattaching a retina, and even if surgery is successful, there is no guarantee of regular vision afterwards. The type of vision retained will depend on how much the macula was damaged, if at all.

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    Resource

    NLM Gateway - Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment associated with the ganciclovir implant in patients with AIDS and CMV retinitis.