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Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is an emergency condition as the retina, a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye tears away from its original position.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is an emergency condition as the retina, a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye tears away from its original position. When this happens, the retina cells and the layer of blood vessels providing oxygen and nourishment are separated. Untreated retinal detachment may cause permanent vision loss in the affected eye. People with retinal detachment may have a sudden appearance of floaters and flashes with the reduced vision. Contacting an ophthalmologist immediately is highly recommended.


This painless condition may cause:

    • Blurred vision
    • Photopsia or flashes of light in one or both eyes
    • Peripheral or gradually reduced side vision
    • A curtain-like shadow over your visual field
    • The sudden appearance of may floaters or tiny specks drifting through the field vision

When to see the doctor

To avoid permanent loss of vision, see the doctor immediately if you have any sign or symptom of retinal detachment.


There are three types of retinal detachment which are:

  • Rhegmatogenous detachment Rhegmatogenous is the most common type of retinal detachment. As the retina is pulled away from underlying tissue, it causes a hole or tear  in the retina that allows fluid to pass through and gather underneath the retina. This causes the retina to lack blood supply and unable to function which may lead to vision loss. Aging is the common cause of rhegmatogenous detachment. The vitreous, the gel-like material filling inside of the eye, might change by age and turn into more liquid. A tear can also be a complication of the separation between the vitreous and the retina.
  • Tractional detachment This type of detachment occurs as scar tissue develops on the retina’s surface. Tractional detachment is commonly found in people with poorly controlled diabetes or other conditions.
  • Exudative detachment Exudative detachment occurs when there is fluid collecting beneath the retina but holes or tears do not exist. This type of detachment may be caused by injury to the eye, tumor, inflammatory disorders or age-related macular degeneration.

Risk factors

The risk of retinal detachment may be increased by:

  • Aging
  • Family history of retinal detachment
  • myopia or extreme nearsightedness
  • previous retinal detachment in an eye
  • previous severe injury to an eye
  • other previous eye problems such as retinoschisis, uveitis or lattice degeneration


The doctor may conduct some tests, instruments and procedures to examine retinal detachment including:

  • Retinal examination The doctor may investigate the detail of your whole eye including retina holes, tears or detachment.
  • Ultrasound imaging The doctor may use this test if bleeding occurs in the eye.


The treatment may differ from the condition of individuals.

  • Retinal tears In the patients whose retina hole or tear has not progressed,  the doctor may suggest some procedures which are an outpatient basis including:
    • Photocoagulation or Laser surgery
    • Cryopexy or freezing
  • Retina detachment In case the retina has already detached, you may need surgery within days after being diagnosed. The kind of surgery depends on the severity of the individual’s condition. The procedures may include:
  • Pneumatic retinopexy This procedure is an injection of air or gas into your eye. The aim of the procedure is to discontinue the flow of fluid into the space behind the retina.
  • Scleral procedure This procedure will indent the wall of the eye to relieve the effect of the tugging of the vitreous on the retina.
  • Vitrectomy This procedure is conducted to drain and replace the fluid in the eye

Preparing for the appointment

Before your appointment, you may:

  • make a list of your symptoms.
  • note down your key personal information.
  • be aware of any restriction that may be required prior the appointment.
  • list questions that you want to ask the doctor.

During the consulting, the doctor may ask some questions including the information such as:

  • your symptoms
  • the beginning of the symptoms
  • the severity of the symptoms
  • the experience of eye injury, eye inflammation or eye surgery
  • other medical condition such as diabetes
  • the history of retinal detachment of your family member