Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Alternative Name: Detached retina, separation of retina.

The retina is the multi-layered sensory and pigment tissue layer at the back of the eye that converts light rays into electrical impulses. These impulses are sent to the optic nerve and then to the brain where the image is processed. Retina detachment is when the sensory and pigment layers of retinal tissue separate, preventing images being processed and leading to vision loss.

Types may include:

    Rhegmatogenous: A tear or break in the retina causes it to separate from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), the pigmented cell layer that nourishes the retina, and fill with fluid. These types of retinal detachments are the most common.

  • Tractional: In this type of detachment, scar tissue on the retina's surface contracts and causes it to separate from the RPE. This type of detachment is less common.

  • Exudative: Frequently caused by retinal diseases, including inflammatory disorders and injury/trauma to the eye. In this type, fluid leaks into the area underneath the retina.

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina falls or is pulled away from its normal position. The retina does not work when it is detached, and slowly starts to die. Vision is blurred, like a camera picture would be blurry if the film were flopping inside the camera. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes permanent blindness unless it is treated promptly.

A detached retina can be caused by an injury to the eye or face, tumors, or disease. Some diseases that can cause a detached retina are diabetes and sickle cell. A detached retina is also a complication of cataract surgery. Individuals who are extremely nearsighted people have longer eyeballs with thinner retinas have a higher risk of developing a detached retina.

Risk Factors May Include:


  • Previous cataract surgery.

  • Glaucoma.

  • Severe injury.

  • Previous retinal detachment in your other eye.

  • Family history of retinal detachment.

  • Weak areas in your retina that can be seen by your ophthalmologist.

  • Diabetes.


Symptoms may include:

    Blurred vision.

  • Floaters/Spots in vision - often appear as spider web shapes.

  • Watery eyes.

  • A shadow in the eye.


Tests will be done to check the retina and pupil response and your ability to see colors properly. These may include:

    Electroretinogram (a record of the electrical currents in the retina produced by visual stimuli).

  • Fluorescein angiography.

  • Intraocular pressure determination.

  • Ophthalmoscopy.

  • Refraction test.

  • Retinal photography.

  • Test to determine your ability to see colors properly (color defectiveness).

  • Visual acuity.

  • Slit-lamp examination.

  • Ultrasound of the eye.


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 be reattached.

Surgical procedures used in the treatment of retinal detachment include:

    Cryopexy uses the application of intense cold to form a scar that adheres the retina to its underlying layer.

  • Laser surgery is used to close up holes or tears in the retina.

  • Pneumatic retinopexy uses a gas bubble injected into the back of the eye to press the retina back into position and keep it in place.

  • Scleral buckle is used to indent the wall of the eye and bring the two layers of the retina back together.

  • Vitrectomy is used to remove the fluid or scar tissue that is placing mechanical traction on the retina.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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