Shamarko Thomas, the safety for the Denver Broncos, sustained an eye injury during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins. The eye injury happened during the first half of the game and had him out for the entire rest of the game. Thomas was kept overnight at a local hospital, as he was said to have a possible detached retina. The scare of a detached retina meant that Thomas was looking at a possible eye surgery in order to prevent vision loss. So, what exactly is a detached retina and why is it so serious?
A detached retina is an eye emergency. The retina is a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye. When the retina detaches, retinal cells get separated from a layer of blood vessels that give oxygen and nutrients. Symptoms of a detached retina include sudden flashes or floaters in the vision, blurred vision, reduced peripheral vision, and a shadow appearing over your field of vision. If not treated immediately, permanent vision loss can occur even leading to complete loss of vision. Although a detached retinal is most commonly seen in people over the age of 50, an eye injury caused by sports impact is possible.
Treatment is necessary for this type of eye injury. The best treatment for a detached retina depends on the situation and the severity of the injury. The most common treatments include laser surgery or ‘freezing.’ Laser surgery works by having a laser beam go into the eye through the pupil, which causes scarring that is supposed to mend the retina to the underlying tissue. Freezing, also known as cryopexy, is done by applying a freezing probe to the outer surface of the eye that also causes scarring that holds the retina in place. Treatments for retinal detachment usually take several months to recover from.