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Detached Retina

  • Rick Alan
Publication Type:


Detached Retina

(Retinal Detachment)


The retina is a layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye. It converts visual images into nerve impulses in the brain that let us see. When the retina is pulled or falls away from its position, it is called a detached retina.


A detached retina may be caused by:

  • Eye trauma
  • Fluid getting behind the retina through a retinal break, or due to an infection or swelling
Detached Retina.

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Risk Factors

Detached retina is more common in premature babies and older adults. Other things that may raise the risk of a detached retina include:

  • Past detached retina
  • Family members with retinal detachment
  • Severe nearsightedness
  • Holes or tears in the retina
  • Trauma
  • Cataract surgery and other types of eye surgery
  • Scar tissue in the eye
  • Tumors in the eye
  • Some other eye and health issues such as:
    • Diabetes
    • Severe acute high blood pressure
    • Inflammatory and autoimmune diseases
    • Blood vessel diseases


Retinal detachment is painless. It needs to be treated quickly to prevent lasting, partial, or total vision loss. Call an eye doctor right away if a person has any of these symptoms:

  • Sudden appearance or increase in the number of floaters, which are shapes that float in the eye and are seen in the field of vision
  • Brief flashes of light in the eye
  • Loss of the eye’s central or peripheral field of vision
  • A curtain seems to fall over part of the visual field
  • Sudden changes or blurring of vision


The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. An eye exam will be done. A special instrument called a slit-lamp will be used.

The eye can be checked with an ultrasound.


Treatments may include:


To help reduce the chance of retinal detachment:

  • Always wear protective eyewear or goggles when participating in:
    • Contact sports
    • Activities that involve flying objects
    • Any other activity where the eye can get injured
  • People who are at risk of retinal detachment should have a regular eye exam at least once a year. People may need to see the eye doctor more often—it depends on their age and risk factors.
  • Contact an eye doctor right away for:
    • An eye injury
    • Any symptoms of retinal detachment, such as flashing lights, floating objects, loss of part of the peripheral vision, or any other change in vision

Nonsurgical Procedures

The retina may be put back into it normal place with a procedure that uses a freezing probe, heat, lasers, or a special gas bubble.

These procedures are often done with other procedures or surgeries.





  • Facts about retinal detachment. National Eye Institute website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/retinaldetach/retinaldetach.
  • Retinal detachment. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/condition/retinal-detachment.
  • What is a torn or detached retina? American Academy of Ophthalmology's Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/detached-torn-retina/index.cfm.
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.