Suddenly-appearing floaters or flashes of light may be a warning sign of a medical emergency
Retinal detachment requires emergency treatment by an ophthalmologist, or can result in permanent vision loss
The retina is a layer located at the back of each eye that contains light-sensitive cells that trigger vision. When these cells are triggered, they transmit signals through the optic nerve to the brain, where vision is formed.
One of the most dangerous conditions affecting vision is when the retina becomes detached. Common causes include a head injury, age-related retinal tears causes by changes in your gel-like vitreous inside the eyes, and advanced diabetes.
Regardless of the cause, retinal detachment requires emergency medical care or it can quickly lead to permanent blindness in an eye. As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I have handled cases where delays in treatment left people blind.
Risks and warning signs of retinal detachment
Retina detachment is not something that you can feel—it is painless.
The way to look out for it is to be aware of the risk factors and warning signs that almost always appear before retinal detachment occurs or advances.
You have an increased risk of retinal detachment it you are older than 50, have a family or personal history of a detached retina, are extremely nearsighted (myopia, when you cannot see things clearly unless they are up-close to you), or had a prior eye injury, disease, or surgery.
Warning signs for retinal detachment include:
· Suddenly-appearing floaters. Floaters are little bits or specks of debris inside your eye that appear when you look at something bright. Ophthalmologists are not typically concerned about long-term floaters, but say that the development of new floaters is a warning sign
· Flashes of light in one or both eyes. These are even more concerning that floaters, because they can be a signal of irritation of the retina from a tear, stretch, inflammation, or infection.
· Blurry vision.
· Reduced peripheral (side) vision.
· An appearance of a shadow over your field of vision that looks like a curtain is blocking it.
Treatment of retinal detachment
If a retina detaches, it is a medical emergency that requires prompt repair by laser surgery or another procedure to stabilize and preserve vision in the eye.
If you have signs or symptoms of retinal detachment, seek immediate treatment with an ophthalmologist, is a physician trained to handle medical and surgical. While optometrists can diagnose eye problems, their scope of practice is essentially limited to prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Thus, seeing an optometrist for a potential retinal detachment could be a waste of precious time, because he or she would end up referring you to an ophthalmologist anyway.
If you have difficulty getting a quick appointment with an ophthalmologist, seek care at a hospital emergency room, where they can bring in an ophthalmologist to evaluate and treat you.
We are here to help
If you or someone you care for has suffered from blindness or permanent injury because of a delay in diagnosis and treatment or retinal detachment, or any other eye or medical condition, call 281-580-800 for a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas.
Attorney Robert Painter is a member of Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas, where he focuses his practice on medical malpractice lawsuits. He exclusively represents patients and their families in medical malpractice and wrongful death matters. Before attending law school, Robert Painter was a hospital administrator in the U.S. Army.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.
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Published in the July/August 2018 edition of "The Houston Lawyer" magazine