Detached Retina Treatment

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What Is a Detached Retina?

A detached retina is when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye. The retina does not work when it is detached, making vision blurry. A detached retina is a serious problem. An ophthalmologist needs to check it out right away, or you could lose sight of that eye.

How Do You Get a Detached Retina?

As we get older, the vitreous in our eyes starts to shrink and get thinner. As the eye moves, the vitreous moves around on the retina without causing problems. But sometimes, the vitreous may stick to the retina and pull hard enough to tear it. When that happens, fluid can pass through the tear and lift (detach) the retina.

Who Is at Risk for a Detached Retina?

You are more likely to have a detached retina if you:

  • Need Glasses to See Far Away (Are Nearsighted)
  • Have Had Cataracts, Glaucoma, or Other Eye Surgery
  • Take Glaucoma Medications That Make the Pupil Small (Like Pilocarpine)
  • Had a Serious Eye Injury
  • Had a Retinal Tear or Detachment in Your Other Eye
  • Have Family Members Who Had a Retinal Detachment
  • Have Weak Areas in Your Retina (Seen by an Eye Doctor During an Exam)
A diagram of an eye with the tear in it.

Early Signs of a Detached Retina

A detached retina has to be examined by an ophthalmologist right away. Otherwise, you could lose vision in that eye.

Call an ophthalmologist immediately if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Seeing flashing lights all of a sudden. Some people say this is like seeing stars after being hit in the eye.
  • Noticing many new floaters at once. These can look like specks, lines, or cobwebs in your field of vision.
  • A shadow appears in your peripheral (side) vision.
  • A gray curtain covering part of your field of vision.
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Retinal Detachment: Torn or Detached Retina Causes

Vitreous gel, the clear material that fills the eyeball, is attached to the retina in the back of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may change shape, pulling away from the retina. If the vitreous pulls a piece of the retina with it, it causes a retinal tear. Once a retinal tear occurs, vitreous fluid may seep through and lift the retina off the back wall of the eye, causing the retina to detach or pull away.

Vitreous fluid normally shrinks as we age, and this usually doesn’t cause damage to the retina. However, inflammation (swelling) or nearsightedness (myopia) may cause the vitreous to pull away and result in retinal detachment.