What Is Retinal Detachment? | Ophthalmology

Retinal Detachment

Overview of retinal detachment

Retinal detachment is a serious eye condition that occurs when the retina, a layer of tissue at the back of the eye that processes light, separates from the surrounding tissue. Doctors also call it a retinal detachment. Since your retina cannot function properly when this happens, you could have permanent vision loss if you don’t treat it right away.

Types and causes of retinal detachment

There are three types of retinal detachment:

  • Rhegmatogenous
  • Tractional
  • Exudative
  • Rhegmatogenous


If you have rhegmatogenous retinal objectivity, you have a tear or fleabag in your retina. This allows fluid from inside the eye to slide through the opening and behind the retina. The fluid separates the retina from the retinal pigment epithelium, which is the membrane that provides the retina with nutrition and oxygen, causing the retina to detach. This is the most common kind of retinal detachment.

Traction retinal detachment

Traction retinal detachment occurs when scar tissue on the surface of the retina contracts, causing the retina to separate from the back of the eye. This is a less common type of detachment that generally affects people with diabetes mellitus. Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus can lead to problems with the retinal vascular system, and this vascular damage can subsequently lead to the accumulation of scar tissue in the eye that could lead to retinal detachment.

Exudative shedding

In exudative detachment, there are no tears or disruptions in the retina. Retinal diseases such as the subsequent cause of this type of detachment:

  • An inflammatory disorder that causes fluid to build up behind the retina.
  • Coats disease, which causes the blood vessels to develop abnormally so that they lose proteins that accumulate behind the retina.

Symptoms of retinal detachment

If only a small part of the retina has detached, you may not have any symptoms. But if more of the retina is detached, you may not be able to see as clearly as usual, and you may notice other sudden symptoms, including:

  • Many new small dark spots or wavy lines floating across your vision (floaters).
  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes
  • A dark shadow or “curtain” to the sides or in the middle of your field of vision

Retinal detachment can be a medical emergency. If you have symptoms, it is important to see your eye doctor or emergency room right away.

The symptoms usually appear quickly. If the retinal detachment is not treated right away, more of the retina can become detached, increasing the risk of permanent vision loss or blindness.

Risk factors

You are more probable to have a retinal detachment if:

  • Severe nearsightedness
  • Have had cataracts, glaucoma, or other eye surgery.
  • Taking glaucoma medications that make the pupil small (such as pilocarpine).
  • Had a serious eye injury.
  • Had a retinal tear or detachment in the other eye.
  • Have family members who have had this.
  • Have weak areas on the retina.


Surgery has proven to be a highly successful treatment, provided the condition has been caught early enough. To ensure that treatment is effective, anyone experiencing the above symptoms should receive medical attention within 24 hours.

Typical surgical procedures include:

  • Laser surgery: repairs the tears in the retina that are the underlying cause of the separation.
  • Cryopexy – smears intense cold to underlying tissue, causing a scar to develop that holds the retina in the home.
  • Pneumatic retinopexy: a small gas bubble is placed in the eye that causes the retina to return its place, usually accompanied by laser surgery to ensure that the retina remains in the correct position permanently.
  • Scleral Buckle: A silicone “buckle” suture in the eye that embeds the wall of the eye in a position that allows the retina to reattach.

Diagnosis for retinal detachment

Your physician may use the following tests, instruments, and actions to diagnose retinal detachment:

  • Retinal exam. The doctor may use an instrument with a bright light and special lenses to examine the back of the eye, including the retina. This type of device provides a highly detailed view of the entire eye, letting the physician see any retinal holes, tears, or detachments.
  • Ultrasound imaging. Your doctor may use this test if you have bleeding in the eye, making it difficult to see your retina.

Your physician will possibly examine both eyes even if you have symptoms in just one. If a tear is not identified at this visit, your doctor may ask you to come back in a few weeks to confirm that your eye has not developed a late tear as a result of the vitreous separation itself. Also, if you experience new symptoms, it is important to return to your doctor immediately.

Can retinal detachment be prevented?

Early diagnosis is key to preventing vision loss related to retinal detachment. It’s important to get an eye exam every year and more often if you are at higher risk for eye disease. Regular eye exams are important for people who are myopic and more prone to retinal detachment. If you are not sure of your risk, talk to your eye doctor. He or she can tell you how often to examine your eyes.

If you notice any symptoms of a possible retinal detachment, such as flashes, floaters, or darkening of peripheral vision, call your doctor immediately.


The risks and complications depend on the procedure used, but can include:

  • Cataract formation (loss of clarity of the lens of the eye).
  • Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye).
  • Infection
  • Haemorrhage (bleeding) into the vitreous cavity.
  • Sight loss
  • Loss of the eye, although with modern surgical techniques this is a highly unlikely outcome.
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