The retina is a light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye. It converts visual images into nerve impulses in the brain that allow us to 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:
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Factors that may increase your chance of retinal detachment include:
Retinal detachment is painless. However, if it is not treated quickly, a detached retina can cause permanent, partial, or total vision loss. If you have any of these symptoms, contact an eye doctor right away:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. An eye exam will be done with your eyes dilated. A special instrument called a slit-lamp will be used.
The eye can be examined with an ultrasound.
Treatments may include:
All of these procedures are often combined with other procedures or surgeries.
To help reduce your chance of retinal detachment:
American Optometric Association
Eye Smart—American Academy of Ophthalmology
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Facts about retinal detachment. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/retinaldetach/retinaldetach.asp. Updated October 2009. Accessed November 4, 2015.
Retinal detachment. EBSCO Plus DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113694/Retinal-detachment. Updated June 10, 2015. Accessed November 4, 2015.
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. Accessed November 4, 2015.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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