What is Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment is a serious eye condition that happens when your retina -- a layer of tissue at the back of your eye that processes light -- pulls away from the tissue around it.
Since your retina can't work properly when this happens, you could have permanent vision loss if you don’t get it treated right away.

Retinal Detachment Symptoms

  • Flashes of light
  • Lots of new "floaters" (small flecks or threads in your vision)
  • Darkness or a “curtain” over your vision, including the middle or the sides
  • Retinal Detachment Causes and Types

    There are three main types of retinal detachment:

  • Rhegmatogenous
  • Tractional
  • Exudative
  • Retinal Detachment Risk Factors

    You're more likely to have a detached retina as you get older or if you have:

  • Severe nearsightedness
  • An eye injury or cataract surgery
  • A family history of retinal detachment
  • Lattice degeneration (thinning along the edges of your retina)
  • Diabetic retinopathy (damaged blood vessels in your retina because of diabetes)
  • Posterior vitreous detachment (the vitreous gel in your eye pulls away from your retina)
  • Retinal Detachment Diagnosis

    Your doctor will give you eye drops that widen (dilate) your pupil. They’ll use a special tool to look through it to see whether your retina is detached. They may also want to take some photos of your retina.

    Retinal Detachment Treatment

    Your treatment may involve one or more of these procedures:

  • Laser (thermal) or freezing (cryopexy)
  • Pneumatic retinopexy
  • Scleral buckle
  • Vitrectomy
  • Retinal Detachment Prevention

    Get to your eye doctor right away if you see new floaters, flashing lights, or any other changes in your vision.
    An eye exam can also flag early changes that you may not have noticed. Treatment could prevent problems down the road. Get your eyes checked once a year, or more often if you have conditions like diabetes or if you’re very nearsighted.
    If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, keep those conditions under control. That will help keep the blood vessels in your retina healthy.
    Consider wearing eye protection. Try sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses if you play racquetball or other activities that could lead to eye injuries. You may also need special glasses if you work with machines, chemicals, or tools for your job or at home.