Common Eye Conditions

Detached Retina – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Detached retina is the separation of the inner layer of the retina – the nerve tissue’s thin membrane lining the back of the eye – from the eye wall. It may lead to permanent vision loss if not treated urgently.

What are the symptoms?

Retinal detachment is painless. Retinal detachment may result in warning signs that can be either gradual or immediate. They include:

  • Sudden flashes of lights; particularly if they are new and/or constant
  • New sudden onset of floaters or spots in vision
  • Blurry or poor vision
  • Seeing a ‘curtain-like’ shadow to one side or the other
  • Seeing a vertical ‘window-blind’ movement - up or down

The warning signs should prompt an immediate visit to an eye doctor to preventing blindness.


What causes Retinal Detachments?

  • Sometimes there is no obvious cause and a detachment may just spontaneously occur
  • Any trauma or injury to the eye.
  • Illnesses such diabetes, Marfans syndrome & sickle cell disease may also increase the risk.
  • Diabetic retinopathy and ocular tumors may cause new blood vessel growth in the retina which could lead to detached retina amongst other issues.
  • Other retinal diseases such as lattice degeneration can also increase the possibility of detachment.
  • People with highly short-sightedness prescriptions are at increased risk. There is also a risk even if a highly short-sightedness person has laser surgery as their retinas are still thin after the surgery .
  • Complications after any eye surgery including cataract surgery.
  • People that have a family history of retinal detachments have a higher risk.

What are the treatments?

If a detachment is suspected, an urgent referral to an Ophthalmologist with advanced retinal training is warranted. An Ophthalmologist can perform a procedure required to repair a detached retina. The sooner the retina is reattached the higher the chance restoring the vision. This is why time is of the utmost importance if one experiences any if the symptoms such of flashes of light, onset of new floaters or a "curtain" over vision.

The Ophthalmologist will decide the best course of action to take.
The success of surgical reattachment may depend on numerous factors including the extent of detachment, the cause and its position. However, the likelihood of success is greatly increased the sooner the detachment is detected and treated.