The retina is a layer of cells at the back of your eye that's sensitive to light and sends signals to the brain that allow you to see.
What is a detached retina?
A detached retina is one that has separated from the back of the eye. Part or all of your retina may be detached.
You’re more likely to have a detached retina if you're nearsighted Overview of Refractive Disorders In refractive disorders, light rays entering the eye are not focused on the retina, causing blurred vision. The shape of the eye or cornea or age-related stiffness of the lens may decrease the... read more (trouble seeing far-away objects clearly), have had eye surgery, or had an eye injury Overview of Eye Injuries The structure of the face and eyes is well suited for protecting the eyes from injury. The eyeball is set into the orbit, a socket surrounded by a strong, bony ridge. The eyelids close quickly... read more
Symptoms include suddenly losing vision or seeing flashing bright lights or floaters (dark spots that seem to be moving across your vision)
It may seem like a curtain or veil dropped across your vision
Doctors can see a detached retina by looking in your eye with a special scope
Treatment can usually keep you from losing more vision
In some cases, you may not get vision back. If you have any symptoms, see an eye doctor immediately to prevent permanent vision loss.
Viewing the Retina
What causes a detached retina?
The retina can detach after it tears. Tearing of the retina happens more often when you're older and if you have:
Severe nearsightedness (trouble seeing far-away objects clearly)
An eye injury
Thinning and scarring of your retina, usually along the edge or little tears in the retina
Drying and shrinking of the jelly-like fluid in front of the retina that pulls it away from the back of the eye
Fluid or blood building up behind the retina
Family members who have had a detached retina
What are the symptoms of a detached retina?
Some people don't have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you won’t feel any pain, but you may suddenly have:
A lot of floaters (dark spots that aren’t really there but seem to be moving across your field of vision)
Flashes of bright light
Vision loss that starts at the edges and spreads inward
Grayness in your field of vision that looks like a curtain or veil falling across your sight
Sometimes, loss of vision quickly
Detachment of the retina usually happens in one eye at a time.
How can doctors tell if I have a detached retina?
Put eye drops in your eyes
Look at your retina with an ophthalmoscope
Sometimes, use ultrasound to see pictures of the back of your eyes
How do doctors treat a detached retina?
Doctors treat detachment differently depending on the cause. Doctors will fix a torn or detached retina by:
Injecting air or gas into the eye to push the retina back into place
Indenting the outside of the back of the eye where the detachment is to help reattach it
Sometimes, placing a silicon band around your eye (called a scleral buckle)
If your retina has a tear in it, the doctor will use a laser or a freezing instrument to seal the tear and prevent the area from detaching.
Usually, your vision comes back after doctors fix your retina. You might have some permanent vision loss if:
Your retina was detached for several days or weeks
You have bleeding or scarring in your eye
Your macula was detached or injured
The macula is a small area of the retina that has a high concentration of light-sensitive cells. The macula is important for seeing details when you look directly at something.