Retinal detachment

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment is a disease occurs when the retina, a light-sensitive membrane located at the back of the eye, separates from the back of the eye. This causes loss of vision that can be partial or total, depending on how much of the retina is detached. When your retina becomes detached, its cells may be deprived of oxygen. Retinal detachment is a medical emergency. Call your doctor right away if you suffer any sudden vision changes.

There’s a risk of permanent vision loss if retinal detachment is left untreated or if treatment is delayed.

How common is retinal detachment?

Retinal detachments affect between 0.6 and 1.8 people per 10,000 per year. About 0.3% of people are affected at some point in their life. It is most common in people who are in their 60s or 70s. Males are more often affected than females.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?

There is no pain associated with retinal detachment, but there are usually symptoms before the retina becomes detached. Primary symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Partial vision loss, which makes it seem as if a curtain has been pulled across your field of vision
  • Sudden flashes of light that appear when looking to the side
  • Areas of darkness in your field of vision
  • Suddenly seeing many floaters, which are small bits of debris that appear as black flecks or strings floating before your eye

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes retinal detachment?

There are three types of retinal detachment:

Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment

If you have a rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, you have tears or holes in your retina. This allows fluid from within the eye to slip through the opening and get behind the retina. The fluid separates the retina from the membrane that provides it with nourishment and oxygen. The pressure from the fluid can push the retina away from the retinal pigment epithelium, causing the retina to detach. This is the most common type of retinal detachment.

Traction Retinal Detachment

Traction retinal detachment occurs when scar tissue on the retina’s surface contracts and causes the retina to pull away from the back of the eye. This is a less common type of detachment that typically affects people with diabetes. Diabetes can lead to issues with the retinal vascular system and cause scar tissue in the eye that could cause detachment.

Exudative Detachment

In exudative detachment, there are no tears or breaks in the retina. Retinal diseases such as an inflammatory disorder or Coats’ disease, which causes abnormal development in the blood vessels behind the retina, cause this type of detachment.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for retinal detachment?

You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:

  • Aging, retinal detachment is more common in people over age 50
  • Previous retinal detachment in one eye
  • A family history of retinal detachment
  • Extreme nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Previous eye surgery, such as cataract removal
  • Previous severe eye injury
  • Previous other eye disease or inflammation

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is retinal detachment diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, an eye examination will be performed. Your doctor might also test the ability of your retina to send impulses to your brain. They may check the blood flow throughout your eye and specifically in the retina.

Your doctor may also order an ultrasound of your eye. This is a painless test that uses sound waves to create an image of your eye.

How is retinal detachment treated?

In most cases, surgery is required to repair a detached retina. For minor detachments or tears of the retina, a simple procedure may be done in your doctor’s office.


If you have a hole or tear in your retina but your retina is still attached, your doctor may use photocoagulation, or a laser. The laser burns around the tear site, and the resulting scarring affixes the retina to the back of the eye.


Another option is cryopexy, or intense cold. For this treatment, your doctor will apply a freezing probe to the tear site and the resulting scarring will help hold the retina in place. Your eye will be numbed for both treatments.


Another option is vitrectomy, which is used for larger tears. This procedure involves anesthesia and is an outpatient procedure. Your doctor will use small tools to remove scar tissue and fluid from the retina and then put the retina back into its proper place.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage retinal detachment?

Following these tips can help you to prevent this condition:

  • Wearing protective eyewear when playing sports or using tools
  • If you are diabetic, control your blood sugar and see your doctor regularly
  • Get yearly eye exams, especially if you have risks for retinal detachment.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: July 26, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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