Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina tears or pulls away from the supportive tissue.

Overview

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina tears or pulls away from the supportive tissue. Risk factors include, for example, myopia, accident, diabetes and vitreous detachment. Examples of the consequences include visual field loss, distorted vision, flashes of light and floaters. An ophthalmologist must be consulted immediately for such visual disturbances.

Symptoms

  • Flashes of light and other light phenomena (also with closed eyes)
  • Narrowing of the visual field
  • Visual field loss
    • Seeing dark patches, veils, shadows or curtains
    • Often from top to bottom or from bottom to top
  • Floaters (moving black dots), vitreous opacities
  • Distorted presentation of reality; straight lines look crooked or wavy
  • A detached retina can go unnoticed for some time
  • Complications and consequences
    • Repeated episodes of detachment (relapses), sometimes alternating between the eyes
    • Cataract and glaucoma
    • Gradual blindness (loss of sensory cells)

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Rhegmatogenous detachment
    • Most common form
  • Risk factors for rhegmatogenous detachment
    • Myopia
    • Vitreous detachment
    • Trauma/bruising of the eyeball, accident causing great pressure
    • Tends to occur in families
    • Past eye surgery
    • Retinal detachment in the other eye
  • Stress-induced
  • Inflammatory causes
    • Fluid build-up behind the retina
    • Retina detaches from its supportive tissue

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Examination of posterior eye segment (ophthalmoscopy)
Possible therapies
  • Holes and tears: laser treatment
  • Extensive detachment: surgery
    • Denting procedures
    • Cold therapy
    • Vitreous replacement

What can I do myself?

  • Act fast when symptoms appear: the longer the retina remains detached, the worse the prognosis for saving the eyesight

When to see a doctor?

  • Visual disturbances of all kinds
  • Light flashes
  • Debris and floaters
  • Distorted vision
  • Visual field loss (e.g. curtain effect)
  • Accident/mishap

Synonyms

detached retina, retinal detachment, ablatio retinae, amotio retinae

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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