What is Retinal Detachment?

Updated at: Jun 13, 2014
What is Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment is a separation of the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye (the retina) from its supporting layers.

Himanshu Sharma
Other DiseasesWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Jan 25, 2013

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. In some cases there may be small areas of the retina that are torn. These areas, called retinal tears or retinal breaks, can lead to retinal detachment.


retinal detachment


Retinal detachment is an emergency situation in which blood vessels that provides it with oxygen and nourishment comes off. This leaves the retinal cells lacking oxygen. If it goes untreated and ignored, there is a greater risk of permanent vision loss in the affected eye.


Warning Signs and Symptoms

Retinal detachment often has symptoms. The early diagnosis and treatment of retinal detachment can save your vision. The warning signs of retinal detachment that appear before it occurs or has advanced are as follows.

  • Bits of debris in your field of vision that look like spots, hairs or strings.
  • Objects seeming to float before your eyes.
  • Seeing flashes of light in the affected eye
  • A shadow or curtain over a portion of your visual field.

As soon as these warning signs appear, contact an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).


Treatment options

Doctors use surgical procedures when your retina has detached. The specifics of your retinal detachment will determine the surgical approach. Surgery can also be done in combination with photocoagulation or cryopexy.

The treatment options for retinal detachment are as follows.


Pneumatic retinopexy

In this procedure, air or gas is injected into the vitreous in your eye. The air bubble is placed in a way to float against the retinal tear and the area surrounding the tear. This stops further flow of fluid into the space behind the retina. Fluid collected under the retina is absorbed by itself and the retina reattaches to your eye.


retinal detachment treatment


Scleral buckling

This process is for indenting the surface of your eye. In this method, a health professional sews a piece of silicone rubber or sponge to sclera. The procedure indents the wall of the eye and relieves some of the force caused by the vitreous tugging on the retina. Your surgeon may create a scleral buckle that circles your entire eye like a belt depending on the detachment.



Vitretomy is the process of draining and replacing the fluid in the eye. An expert removes the vitreous and injects air, gas or liquids to reattach the retina. The procedure may be combined with scleral buckling.



Read more articles on Retinal Detachment.





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