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Retinal detachment

1-minute read

What is retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment is when the layer of tissue on the inside of the back of the eye (the retina) separates from the eyeball.

This is a medical emergency. The retina controls how you see. If it is damaged, you can lose your vision. If you think you have retinal detachment, go to an emergency department immediately.

Retinal detachment symptoms

Symptoms of detached retina are:

  • light flashes
  • moving specks or cobwebs (floaters) from one eye
  • blurred vision
  • seeing an empty circle in front of you
  • changes to peripheral vision

Some people lose their vision quite suddenly. They say it is like having a curtain pulled over their eye, or that a shadow has developed.

Retinal detachment diagnosis

If you have symptoms of retinal detachment, see a doctor immediately. To diagnose retinal detachment, an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) will probably ask you questions, examine your eyes and test your sight.

Retinal detachment treatment

Retinal holes and tears can be treated in an eye specialist’s office with a laser or freezing. However, retinal detachment usually requires surgery in an operating theatre.

After retinal detachment surgery

Most of the time, retinal detachment is treated successfully. But the longer the delay before surgery, the harder it is to fix.

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Last reviewed: May 2020

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