The retina is the layer of light-sensitive tissue within the eye that give us sight. It contains the “rod” and “cone” receptors and the nerves that connect these to the optic nerve. The retina can become detached from its support tissue — this can lead to vision problems and even blindness and requires prompt medical treatment to correct. There are several causes and pre-disposing factors for retinal detachment, including cataract surgery complications, prior tears in the retinal tissue, and trauma.
Retinal detachment from trauma usually involves a blow to the head or a rapid acceleration/deceleration event. It can also occur with certain types of sports and work activities involved heavy lifting, in which the participant forcefully holds his breath (imagine an Olympic weightlifter holding his breath while lifting a barbell overhead) an activity that can also cause pressure within the eye to spike. Other sports such as football or boxing in which impacts to the head are common may produce retinal detachment from trauma. Likewise, incidents such as motor vehicle accidents that cause direct head injury or that involve the types of acceleration/deceleration forces that produce “whiplash,” may result in retinal detachment from trauma.
Whatever the cause of the retinal detachment from trauma, the overall prognosis for the condition is generally good. A variety of techniques are available for re-attaching the retina, including silicone bands, cryotherapy, and laser photocoagulation. In some procedures the vitreous gel — the clear fluid inside the eye — may be replaced with a different material. Success rates for the treatments are high and most patients recover all or most of their vision within a few weeks.
The amount of time available for treatment after retinal detachment from trauma is short, however, since the retinal tissue can only survive for a limited time. Anyone experiencing vision problems — particularly after a blow to the head or other traumatic event — should seek medical care on an emergency basis.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic injury from a motor vehicle collision, sports injury, or other incident caused by negligence, call me now at (916) 921-6400. If you are outside the Sacramento area, you can call at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.