Overview on retinal detachment

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Retinal detachment occurs once the retina detaches from the back part of the eye. This leads to vision loss that can be partial or complete depending on the area of the retina that separated. Once it is separated, the cells are deprived of oxygen. Remember that this is a medical emergency that entails immediate medical attention if there are abrupt changes in vision.

Remember that there is the risk for permanent loss of vision if retinal detachment is not properly treated or delayed.

What are the indications of retinal detachment?

There is no pain linked with retinal detachment but there are symptoms present before the retina separates.

Primary symptoms

  • Blurry vision
  • Sudden flashes of light when looking to the side
  • Partial loss of vision which seems as if a curtain was pulled across the field of vision
  • Regions of darkness in the field of vision
  • Abrupt presence of floaters or small-sized bits of debris that appear as black strings or flecks floating before the eye

What are the types and causes?

Retinal detachment
Abrupt presence of floaters or small-sized bits of debris that appear as black strings or flecks floating before the eye

There are 3 forms of retinal detachment that you should be familiar with.

  • Rhegmatogenous – there are holes or tears in the retina which allows the fluid within the eye to drain via the opening and go behind the retina. This is the most common form of detachment.
  • Traction – occurs once scar tissue of the surface of the retina contracts and causes the retina to pull away from the back part of the eye. This type usually affects individuals who have diabetes.
  • Exudative – there are no breaks or tears in the retina. This form of detachment is caused by an inflammatory disorder or Coat’s disease that leads to the unusual development in the blood vessels behind the retina.

Risk factors

  • Family history of retinal detachment
  • Posterior vitreous detachment which is prevalent among older adults
  • Individuals over the age of 40
  • Extreme nearsightedness which causes more strain on the eye
  • Eye trauma
  • Diabetes
  • Complications from cataract surgery
  • Previous history of retinal detachment


The outlook of an individual usually depends on the severity of the condition and how rapidly treatment was started. Some might recover entirely especially if the macula is intact.

Some might not regain full vision though. This can occur if the macula is damaged and treatment was not started early enough.

Preventive measures

Generally, there is no way to prevent retinal detachment. Nevertheless, there are steps that can be taken to avoid detachment due to injury by using protective eyewear while using tools or playing sports.

Eye exams every year is vital especially those who are at risk for detachment. It is also vital to be familiar with the symptoms of retinal detachment so that early treatment can be sought to save vision.

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