A healthy retina is essential to good vision. The retina is the thin layer of tissue covering the back interior of the eye. This tissue is responsible for turning light into signals for the brain, allowing us to see the images in front of us. This can be compared to the film in a camera.
A substance called vitreous gel fills the interior of the eye, between the pupil and the retina. As we age, the vitreous "fibers" condense, "liquefy" and may pull or collapse. When this occurs, the vitreous gel separates from the retina. This is what causes flashes and floaters for some patients.
Most of the time, the vitreous gel separates completely and without problems. In some patients, however, the vitreous is more adherent, and the separation can cause a tear in the retina. These tears are often small and located in the peripheral retina, not used for vision. Decreased vision from a tear alone is unlikely, and often the only symptom is flashes and floaters.
Not all retinal tears need to be treated, but it is important to go to the doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of a retinal tear, as it could lead to a much more serious condition called a retinal detachment.
Retinal detachment is the separation of the retina from the back wall of the eye. Where there is a retinal tear, liquid from the vitreous cavity can pass through and cause the separation. Once separated from the wall, detached areas of the retina progressively lose vision. Most retinal detachments require surgery, but there are other treatment methods. Your doctor at All Saints Eye Center will discuss with you the best course of action to control this condition, and save vision as much as possible.
If you are experiencing sudden flashes or floaters, be sure to contact your Fort Myers/ Naples eye doctor right away, as this can be signs of a serious retinal condition. Give us a call to schedule an examination today!