Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment is a serious and sight-threatening event, occurring when the retina becomes separated from its underlying supportive tissue on the back of the eye. The retina cannot function when these layers are detached, and unless it is re-attached quickly, permanent vision loss may result.

Retinal detachment is more common in those with severe myopia (short-sightedness). A blow or injury to the head can detach a retina and it is more common in certain illnesses such as diabetes and sickle cell disease.

Symptoms include

  • A shadow coming down over your field of vision
  • Sudden onset or increase in floaters
  • Flashes of light within the eye
If treated quickly there is a good chance that the detachment can be treated successfully, but sometimes the sight remains permanently impaired. A detached retina must be dealt with by an ophthalmologist (an eye surgeon), who will attempt to re-attach the retina. Laser treatment is also an option.

Further information

This article published on
28 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013


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