The retina, which is the tissue that responds to light and sends signals to the brain that enables us to see, is normally attached to the inside of the eye. This is essential for its nutrition and function, so when it becomes detached, it will eventually die and blindness results. Some gene mutations increase the susceptibility for detachment of the retina but other causes, such as trauma, can also be responsible.
This is one of several genetic disorders in which there is an increased risk of a retinal detachment. One of the possible underlying factors may be that many patients have evidence of retinal degeneration or weakness in the retinal tissue called lattice degeneration which is a known risk factor. Significant nearsightedness increases the risk of a retinal detachment, and even more so in the presence of lattice degeneration of the retina. There are no associated systemic signs or problems known.
This lattice-associated retinal disease seems to follow an autosomal dominant pattern, that is, a vertical pattern of disease in which parents pass the susceptibility of retinal detachments directly to their offspring.
Lattice degeneration of the retina also occurs in individuals who do not carry this mutation and therefore your ophthalmologist must weigh the clinical signs as well as the family history. Detachments can be surgically repaired but it should be done promptly to avoid further damage. It is also prudent to avoid contact sports and blunt trauma as these can increase the risk of a detachment.