Retinal Detachment
What is a Retinal Detachment?

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. Surgery is needed to restore vision and to prevent permanent vision loss.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Retinal Detachment?

Symptoms may include a sudden or gradual increase in either the number of floaters, which are little “cobwebs” or specks that float about in your field of vision, and/or light flashes in the eye. Another symptom is the appearance of a dark curtain over the field of vision.

Why Did my Retina Tear and Detach?

In most instances, very small areas of the retina are torn and allow fluid from the interior of the eye to track under the retina, peeling it off the eye wall. The tears themselves arise from internal traction on the retina that exerts a force on the retina that is greater than this tissue can withstand. This typically follows a separation of the vitreous gel from the back of the eye (see Flashes and Floaters).

What are the Risk Factors for Retinal Detachment?

A retinal detachment can occur at any age, but it is more common in people over age 40. It tends to affect men more than women.
A retinal detachment is also more likely to occur in people who:

  • Are very nearsighted
  • Have had a retinal detachment in the other eye
  • Have a family history of retinal detachment
  • Have had cataract surgery
  • Have other eye diseases or disorders, such as retinoschisis, retinitis, degenerative myopia, or lattice degeneration
  • Have had an eye injury
Will Surgery be Necessary?

Retinal detachments that are caused by tears are nearly always repaired surgically. Modern techniques have made successful reattachment possible in the majority of patients. The appropriate timing for when to perform surgery varies. Your physician will decide when the timing is optimal. Below are videos on four techniques.

Repair by Vitrectomy

Repair by Scleral Buckle

Repair by Vitrectomy combined with Scleral Buckle

Repair by Pneumatic Retinopexy

A retinal detachment is present in the lower half of this photograph.

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A retinal detachment may initially be perceived as a shadow in the vision, simulated in the upper right portion of this image.

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Retinal detachments occur when a vitreous detachment pulls a tear in the retina, allowing fluid to enter the subretinal space.