Do You Have a Case for Delayed Diagnosis and Treatment of a Detached Retina?

Retinal detachment is an emergency situation – the longer it goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the chance you will permanently lose vision in your eye.  If you have complaints to your doctor – whether it be an eye doctor like an optometrist or your family physician – that indicate you are suffering from a retinal tear or detachment, and they do not refer you for immediate treatment to a retinal specialist resulting in permanent or significant vision loss in the affected eye, you may have a malpractice case against them.

What is retinal detachment?  Your retina is the thin, light-sensitive tissue and inner lining of the eye that generates vision.  A detached retina is when the retina peels away from its underlying support tissue from the back of the eye.  This support tissue is the clear material that fills the eyeball or vitreous gel. This fluid can change shape and pull away from the retina.  When this happens a retinal tear can occur. This can result in vitreous fluid seeping through and can cause the retina to lift off of the back wall of the eye.

What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Retinal Tears?

Signs and symptoms of a retinal tear include:

  • Photopsia which are sudden, brief flashes of light outside the central part of your vision or your peripheral vision.  These flashes are more likely to occur when you move your eye.
  • A significant increase in the number of floaters you see.  Floaters are the bits of debris in the eye that cause you to see floating things in front of you – such as transparent bubbles or rods that follow your field of vision.
  • A heavy feeling in the eye.
  • A shadow that starts in your peripheral vision and eventually spreads towards the center of your vision.
  • A sensation that a grey curtain is coming down your field of vision.
  • A sudden decrease in your vision.

There are certain people who are at a greater risk of having a retinal tear or detached retina.  If you have any of the conditions that make you at a greater risk of having a detached retina and have symptoms of one, it is imperative for your treating doctor to refer you to a retinal specialist for immediate treatment.  These conditions include advanced age, being nearsighted (myopia), if you have lattice degeneration (thin patches in the retina), a family history of retinal detachment, if you have had a detached retina in one of your opposite eyes in the past if you suffered a trauma or injury to your eye in the past, previous cataract, glaucoma, or other eye surgery, or if you are on glaucoma medications that make your pupil smaller.

What Kind Of Retinal Tear Scenarios Could Lead To A Malpractice Claim?

As stated earlier common malpractice claims arising from a detached retina are when you see your optometrist or another doctor with complaints indicating a detached retina or retinal tear, and they do not refer you to a specialist.  However, this is not the only scenario in which you can have a malpractice case regarding the treatment of a detached retina. You will also have to prove that you suffered significant harm as a result. For example, this can, unfortunately, mean complete, or nearly complete, loss of vision in your eye due to delayed treatment for your detached retina.  In addition, you will have to show that if you received treatment to your eye when you made your complaints to your doctor, your vision would be normal today. This can be shown through medical experts who specialize in this area of medicine (such as ophthalmologists) and whom your attorney will need to consult with about your case. You will also need to get your medical records regarding the care and treatment of your eye.  However, your attorney should have forms you can sign to let the attorney obtain your records if you are unable to do so.   

Finally, you will need to show how the loss of vision in your eye affects your daily life which may also include evidence of lost wages if you are unable to do your job because of the loss of vision.

The Thistle Law Firm is experienced at handling medical malpractice cases involving a delay in diagnosis and treatment of a detached retina.  If you or a loved one believe you may have such a claim, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call at 215-568-6800. 

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