Retinal detachment is a severe ocular emergency where the thin layer of tissue, the Retina, pulls away from its normal position. Patients can experience sudden flashes of light and dark spots in their field of vision. Contacting an ophthalmologist when these symptoms appear can help save your vision. The longer it goes untreated the greater the risk of permanent vision loss in the affected eye.


  • Aging — The condition is more common in people over age 50
  • Previous retinal detachment in one eye
  • Family history
  • Extreme nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Previous eye surgery, such as cataract removal
  • Previous severe eye injury
  • Previous other eye disease or disorder, including retinoschisis, uveitis or thinning of the peripheral retina (lattice degeneration)


Retinal detachment is painless. But warning signs almost always appear before it occurs or before it is too advanced. Here are some warning signs:

  • The sudden appearance of many floaters — tiny specks that seem to drift through your field of vision
  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes (photopsia)
  • Blurred vision
  • Gradually reduced side (peripheral) vision
  • A curtain-like shadow over your visual field


To diagnose retinal detachment, your eye doctor may use an instrument with a bright light and special lenses to examine the back of your eye. This type of device provides a highly detailed view of your whole eye, allowing the doctor to see any retinal holes, tears, or detachments. If bleeding has occurred and the retina is hard to see, your eye doctor might use ultrasound imaging.


Surgery is almost always used to repair a retinal tear, hole, or detachment. Various techniques are available. Ask your ophthalmologist about the risks and benefits of your treatment options to define the best choice for you.