Many people see small black spots or "flying mosquitos" when looking at the sky or at a white area. This is usually a sign of a harmless opacity of the vitreous body in the eye. However, if suddenly "swarms of gnats" or lightning flashes, this may indicate retinal detachment. Then you should immediately consult an ophthalmologist, because in the worst case, a retinal detachment can lead to blindness. Here's how to spot the symptoms of retinal detachment and what may be the cause.
In a retinal detachment (termed retinal detachment or retinal amputation), the upper layer of the retina separates from the underlying pigment cell layer. The areas of the detached retina can then no longer be adequately supplied with blood because there is no contact with the blood vessels that run below the pigment cell layer. This causes the death of visual cells.
If the retina is affected in the area of the yellow spot - the point of sharpest vision - this can lead to a reduction in visual acuity to blindness. For this reason, you should consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible with the symptoms of a retinal detachment or the ophthalmological emergency service at the weekend!
Diabetes and myopia as risk factors
Depending on the underlying cause, a distinction is made between different forms of retinal detachment:
- In rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, a hole or tear in the retina causes detachment. Such defects usually arise when the vitreous body, which lines the eyeball from the inside, exerts a pull on the retina. Such vitreous detachment is often the case in the elderly, as the vitreous shrinks in old age. Severe myopia or previous cataract surgery also increases the risk of retinal defects. In addition, a blow to the eye can lead to retinal detachment.
- Exudative retinal detachment is caused by fluid accumulation between retina and pigment cell layer. Causes may be inflammation or vascular disease. In rare cases, this form of retinal detachment is caused by a tumor in the eye, such as a choroidal melanoma.
- In a tractional retinal detachment, scar tissue exerts traction on the retina. Reasons for scarring of the retina are usually long-term damage of diabetes mellitus (diabetic retinopathy).
Typical symptoms of retinal detachment
A retinal detachment is usually painless, but usually typical symptoms occur: When the vitreous pulls on the retina and tears it, this is often expressed by flashes of light. If the retina lifts off, those affected can perceive this as a shadow or a black curtain that slides into the field of vision. Visual acuity may also be reduced. If a retinal tear causes bleeding, "sooty rain" can occur in front of the eyes.
Delimate retinal detachment
Individual black spots or "flying mosquitoes" (so-called "mouches floaters"), on the other hand, are generally harmless and can be traced back to a harmless vitreous opacification. However, if they do appear for the first time or if only one eye is affected, you should consult an ophthalmologist for safety's sake.