Retinal detachment


Retinal detachment is a serious eye disorder. This occurs when the retina, which is the layer of tissue at the back of the eye responsible for detecting light and transmitting visual signals to the brain, becomes separated from the surrounding supportive tissues. A detached retina affects the vision and can cause blindness.

The retina loses its blood supply when it separates from the tissues that support it. These tissues’ blood vessels deliver oxygen and nourishment to the retina. If left untreated for an extended period, the chances of experiencing permanent vision loss in the affected eye significantly increase.

Reduced vision, sudden appearance of floaters, and flashes of light are all potential warning symptoms of retinal detachment, and prompt treatment is essential to prevent potential vision loss. Treatment options may include laser therapy and surgery.


The signs and symptoms of retinal detachment depend on the severity of the symptoms. Some people don’t experience any symptoms, while some, especially if a larger portion of the retina detaches, may have symptoms. But before it happens or has progressed, there are often warning indicators, such as:

  • Photopsia, or bright flashes of light
  • The abrupt onset of numerous floaters
  • The peripheral vision becomes darker or reduced
  • Darkening or shadow covering part of the vision
  • Blurry vision

If one observes an increase in the number of eye floaters, flashes of light, or the presence of a shadow in the vision, it is crucial to immediately contact an eye care provider or visit the emergency room. Urgent medical attention is necessary to prevent permanent vision loss.


The cause of retinal detachment may vary depending on its type. The types of retinal detachment include:

  • Rhegmatogenous: This type of retinal detachment is the most common and usually happens as a person gets older. The gel-like fluid known as vitreous humor can pass through a small tear in the retina and gather behind the retina. The fluid exerts pressure, displacing the retina from the rear of your eye. As the vitreous undergoes age-related shrinking and thinning, it exerts a tug on the retina, resulting in tears.
  • Tractional: The most common cause of this type of retinal detachments is diabetes. Long-term high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the retina and cause the scar tissue. Scar tissue that forms on the retina’s surface can cause the retina to pull away from the back of the eye.
  • Exudative: Blood vessels that are leaking or swelling behind the eye, which can result from eye inflammation conditions such as uveitis, are the main causes of fluid buildup which can lead to exudative retinal detachment. When the fluid gathers behind the retina without a tear, it accumulates and pushes the retina away from its supportive tissue. Other causes include tumors, age-related macular degeneration, and eye injuries.

Risk factors

Several factors may contribute to one’s risk of developing retinal detachment, such as:

  • Aging, particularly people over 50 are more
  • Personal and family history of retinal detachment
  • Eye injury
  • Had an eye surgery
  • Being very nearsighted
  • Previous eye conditions such as retinoschisis, uveitis, or lattice degeneration or diabetes-related retinopathy
  • Posterior vitreous detachment
  • Certain inherited eye disorders