- Eye Diseases and Conditions Slideshow Pictures
- Pink Eye Slideshow Pictures
- Eyes and Eye Conditions Quiz
- Patient Comments: Retinal Detachment - Experience
- Patient Comments: Retinal Detachment - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Retinal Detachment - Treatment
- Patient Comments: Retinal Detachment - Surgery
- Patient Comments: Retinal Detachment - Predisposing Eye Diseases
- Find a local Eye Doctor in your town
- Retinal detachment facts
- What is the retina?
- What is a retinal detachment?
- What are retinal detachment symptoms and signs?
- What are retinal detachment causes and risk factors?
- Which diseases of the eyes predispose to the development of a retinal detachment?
- How does cataract surgery lead to a retinal detachment?
- What other factors are associated with a retinal detachment?
- Why is it mandatory to treat a retinal detachment?
- What types of doctors treat retinal detachment?
- What is the treatment for retinal detachment?
- What are complications of surgery for a retinal detachment, and what is recovery like after retinal detachment surgery?
- What are the results of surgery for a retinal detachment?
Quick GuideCommon Eye Problems and Infections
What are retinal detachment symptoms and signs?
Flashing lights and floaters may be the initial symptoms of a retinal detachment or of a retinal tear that precedes the detachment itself. Anyone who is beginning to experience these symptoms should see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) for a retinal exam. In the exam, drops are used to dilate the patient's pupils to make a more detailed exam easier. The symptoms of flashing lights and floaters may often be unassociated with a tear or detachment and can merely result from a separation of the vitreous gel from the retina. This condition is called a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Although a PVD occurs commonly, in the majority of cases there are no tears associated with the condition.
The flashing lights are caused by the vitreous gel pulling on the retina or a looseness of the vitreous, which allows the vitreous gel to bump against the retina. The lights are often described as resembling brief lightning streaks in the outside edges (periphery) of the eye. The floaters are caused by condensations (small solidifications) in the vitreous gel and frequently are described by patients as spots, strands, or little flies. Some patients even want to use a flyswatter to eliminate these pesky floaters. There is no safe treatment to make the floaters disappear. Floaters are usually not associated with tears of the retina.
If the patient experiences a shadow or curtain that affects any part of the vision, this can indicate that a retinal tear has progressed to a detached retina. In this situation, one should immediately consult an eye doctor since time can be critical. The goal for the ophthalmologist is to promptly make the diagnosis and treat the retinal tear or detachment before the central macular area of the retina detaches.