Signs and Symptoms of a Retinal Detachment

by Feb 1, 2021

You might be aware that a retinal detachment is a serious eye condition that can permanently impact vision. There are many ways that a retinal detachment can occur and our eye doctors are always looking out for any risk factors in your eye examination. Read on to learn about how retinal detachments occur and what can be done for them.

What is the Retina?

The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of the eye that converts light into nervous signals that are then transmitted to the brain for visual processing. A retinal detachment, then, is when this tissue becomes separated from the underlying tissue that is responsible for its blood supply and nourishment, the choroid.

A retinal detachment is an ocular emergency because the retina will die if it is separated from the choroid for too long or if its structure is too badly warped because it is a very thin and fragile tissue.

If the part of the retina responsible for central vision is at risk, the detachment must be surgically repaired immediately, likely that same day, while if the detachment is already severe and has taken central vision, the fix can wait a few days because there is no way to save the tissue that has already detached.

Detachment can result from breaks in the retina that get fluid underneath them which allows the tissue to be peeled off like seran wrap. This can stem from genetic predisposition, high nearsightedness, trauma, or even normal aging changes.

Conditions like severe proliferative diabetic retinopathy can also result in retinal detachment without a retinal break because the new blood vessels formed can warp and pull on the retina.

How is a Retinal Detachment Diagnosed?

A retinal detachment can be caught with photos, scans, or clinical examination using lenses and the microscope. It can sometimes be asymptomatic and discovered on routine eye examination but is usually symptomatic.

Detachment will often be symptomatic with suddenly increased frequency and intensity of flashes of light in peripheral vision, floaters in vision, the appearance of a dark curtain over an area of vision, and loss of vision. If you are experiencing these, you should come to our office immediately.

Drops that dilate your pupils will likely be used to allow getting a good look at the back of the eye. These will last for about six hours.

How is a Retinal Detachment Treated?

The management or treatment for any retinal detachment is surgery to lock down the tissue and prevent further detachment. This can be done with a gas bubble injected into the eye to push the tissue back onto the underlying choroid, after which the patient has to lay face down for several days.

The vitreous humour, or the gel in the eye that gives it its shape, is also removed during these surgeries so remove any chance of it pulling on the retina and worsening the break.

Laser and cold therapy are also used to lock the broken retina back in place along with a scleral buckle, or an external plate that pushes the walls of the eye from the other direction to make contact with the disrupted retinal tissue.

It is also important to get regular eye examinations even if you are not having symptoms so that conditions that can lead to retinal detachments can be treated much more easily.

A retinal hole, for example, can be simply and quickly lasered so that it will not develop into a detachment, while diabetic retinopathy can also be treated earlier to prevent its progression.


Our optometrist at Eye Contact in Acworth, GA excels in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrist at (770) 529-1925 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about a retinal detachment. Our eye doctor, Dr. Wes Mobley provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Acworth, Georgia and its surrounding areas.

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