If you experience an abrupt increase in floaters or start seeing flashing lights in your peripheral vision, you might immediately assume that you are experiencing a retinal detachment. While this may be the case, the only way to diagnose a retinal tear or detachment is with a thorough dilated eye examination with an eye care professional. While it may seem tempting to go to an emergency room, they will most likely refer you to an ophthalmologist or optometrist. You can save time and money by calling us first.
When should you call? If you notice a significant increase in floaters, new onset of flashing lights in your peripheral vision and certainly if you notice some loss of side vision, call right away. If it is in the middle of the night, you can easily wait until the morning to call. If it on a weekend, we are available with an option to reach the on- call doctor on our answering machine. We generally recommend the examination be performed within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
The eye is filled with a gelatin-like material called vitreous. Over time, it breaks down - becoming more liquid with small collagen particles casting a shadow on the retina. The result is the appearance of small spots, squiggly lines, clouds or spider webs moving across your vision. Flashes of light occur when the fluid shifts within the eye, tugging on the retina (the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye).
The reason it is important to diagnose a retinal detachment is that it may require laser treatment or even surgery to preserve you vision. Early detection is the key to optimal outcome from either procedure. Realize that we are here for you if need be.
Dr. James Ivanoski works with Dr. Martha Jay and soon will be welcoming Dr. Lisa Bennett to Madison Medical Eye Care/Mequon. He is an Optometrist specializing in comprehensive eye care for the whole family including contact lens fitting. For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.