Picture of Retinal Detachment
A retinal detachment is a separation of the retina from its attachments to its underlying tissue within the eye. Most retinal detachments are a result of a retinal break, hole, or tear. Once the retina has torn, liquid from the vitreous gel (clear gel that fills most of the inside of the eye) passes through the tear and accumulates behind the retina. The build-up of fluid behind the retina is what separates (detaches) the retina from the back of the eye. Flashing lights and floaters may be the initial symptoms of a retinal detachment or of a retinal tear that precedes the detachment itself. Retinal detachments can occur at any age but occur most commonly in younger adults (age 25 to 50) who are highly nearsighted and in older people following cataract surgery. Surgical repair of a retinal detachment is usually successful in reattaching the retina, although more than one procedure may be necessary. Once the retina is reattached, vision usually improves and then stabilizes.
Reviewed by Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS on September 17, 2009
Image Source: Image reprinted with permission from eMedicine.com, 2009
Text: MedicineNet - Retinal Detachment