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Retinal Detachment


Retinal detachment means that the retina, which is like a wall paper lining in the back of the eye, gets detached.

This is a medical emergency as this needs to be repaired as soon as possible to prevent permanent blindness. Retinal detachment can occur as a result of a tear or as a result of traction from scarring or proliferative retinopathy. An underlying tear could be from myopia, could be following trauma to the eye or after cataract surgery. Retinal detachment from traction is commonly seen with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, following severe cases of uveitis, or tumors in the choroidal layer behind the retina where the blood vessels are located.

Signs and Symptoms

There is no pain with this condition. Initially there might be dark floaters or flashes of light. Suddenly there might be a lack of vision following an experience that a “curtain dropped down”.

Diagnostic Tests

The eye specialist will use direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy to evaluate this complex three-dimensional occurrence. B-scan ultrasonography helps the eye specialist to locate the detachment and to delineate the size of it.

 Retinal Detachment

Retinal Detachment


Depending on what the eye surgeon finds, there are a number of procedures available for the repair of a retinal detachment.

Pneumatic retinopexy is a method where a gas bubble is introduced into the vitreous body. This pushes the detached retina up against the wall of the eye ball and subsequently the retina is “spot-welded” with the help of laser surgery so that a reoccurrence of the detachment is unlikely.

Vitrectomy is a surgical method where the vitreous body is removed.

Ultimately the eye specialist will know best what is required in a specific case.



1. The Merck Manual: Detachment of the Retina

2. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc.

3. Rakel: Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

Last modified: December 4, 2016

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.