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​What is a detached retina and how is it repaired?

the retina is an extremely thin tissue lining the inside of the back of the eye that allows us to interpret what we see," says Ruben Lemos, M.D. "The eye focuses images onto the retina in much the way a camera focuses light onto film."

Most detachments occur when a break or a tear separates the retina from its attachments to the eye, allowing vitreous gel - a clear gel filling two-thirds of the inside of the eye - to accumulate behind the retina. Though about one in 10,000 people have a retinal detachment each year for no apparent reason, most detachments are caused by eye diseases, diabetes or blunt trauma - such as a tennis ball striking to the eye.

"Untreated, even partial retinal separations may progress to total detachment - and, eventually, blindness," Dr. Lemos warns. "That's why early diagnosis and repair is urgent."

Several treatments are available to make the repairs. However, surgical reattachment tends to be the best option for more severe cases.

"Surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia," Dr. Lemos says. "About 90 percent of patients have a successful reattachment with improved vision."

The worst mistake a patient can make is not seeking treatment.

"The retina will not reattach itself. That's why it's important to be seen by a knowledgeable ophthalmologist," concludes Dr. Lemos.​​​