What is retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment occurs when the light-sensing layer inside your eye, the retina, detaches from the underlying pigmented tissue layer that provides it oxygen and nutrients. Retinal detachment can happen spontaneously with no obvious or underlying cause. However, retinal detachment is often associated with a common age-related change to the eye called posterior vitreous detachment. In posterior vitreous detachment, the gel-like material that fills the back of your eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina. As the vitreous pulls away, it can put traction on the retina.

In the most common scenario, vitreous traction can generate small holes and tears in the retina, providing a convenient pathway for the liquid vitreous to gain access behind the retina.
Retinal detachment is most common in people over age 40 and they occur more frequently in women. Previous detachment is a significant risk factor. Trauma to the face or head or an eye injury may cause retinal detachment. Diabetes and uveitis, an inflammatory disease of the inner eye, also contribute to the development of retinal detachment. Several other risk factors can predispose you to retinal detachment. These risk factors include extreme nearsightedness, a family history of retinal detachment, or a family history of genetic eye diseases.

Retinal detachment is painless. Symptoms of retinal detachment include blurred vision, bright flashes of light in the peripheral vision, or partial blindness. You may also experience a sudden increase in floaters, which appear as debris, cobweb-like lights, or specks of light in your field of vision.

Retinal detachment is a serious condition that can lead to blindness in the affected eye. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have serious symptoms such as sudden blurring of vision, bright flashes of light, sudden increase in floaters, and partial blindness.


SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment is painless. However, symptoms of retinal detachment affect your vision. You may experience a sudden blurring of vision or partial loss of vision. Characteristic symptoms of retinal detachment include flashing lights and a sudden increase of floaters in your vision. You may experience partial loss of vision. Patients describe it as a curtain coming down over their vision.
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CAUSES

What causes retinal detachment?

A detached retina separates from the structures at the back of the eye that provide the retina with oxygen, nutrients and support. Although the exact cause of retinal detachment is not known, it is often associated with a common age-related change called posterior vitreous detachment. In posterior vitreous detachment, the gel-like material that fills the back of your eye begins to congeal and p... Read more about retinal detachmentcauses

TREATMENTS

How is retinal detachment treated?

The treatment of retinal detachment begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. Retinal detachment is treated with several types of surgical procedures to reattach the retina. The type of detachment, its location, and the extent of the damage to the retina will determine the type of repair. Sometimes these procedures are combined. Vision loss may occur if the retina cannot ... Read more about retinal detachmenttreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Eyes and Vision


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