Eye Conditions

Retinal Tear and Detachment

What is a Retinal Detachment?

A retinal detachment is an ocular emergency that can cause permanent vision loss. Seek urgent medical attention. Contact Eye Specialist Institute on 1800 RETINA (1800 738 462).

A retinal detachment occurs when the inner layers of the retina separate from the underlying supportive tissue. 

The retina is the curved back layer of the eye covered in light-sensitive cells that are responsible for sending visual information to the brain, and it cannot function when not in contact with the underlying support layers.

Symptoms of a Retinal Detachment

The impact on a person’s eyesight depends on the location and severity of the detachment and symptoms can include:

  • New onset floaters
  • Blurred or decreased vision
  • Bright flashing lights or sparks in peripheral vision
  • Dark shadow or grey curtain in your side vision
  • Complete and sudden loss of vision

What is a Retinal Detachment?

A retinal detachment is an ocular emergency that can cause permanent vision loss. Seek urgent medical attention. Contact Eye Specialist Institute on 1800 RETINA (1800 738 462).

A retinal detachment occurs when the inner layers of the retina separate from the underlying supportive tissue. 

The retina is the curved back layer of the eye covered in light-sensitive cells that are responsible for sending visual information to the brain, and it cannot function when not in contact with the underlying support layers.

Symptoms of a Retinal Detachment

The impact on a person’s eyesight depends on the location and severity of the detachment and symptoms can include:

  • New onset floaters
  • Blurred or decreased vision
  • Bright flashing lights or sparks in peripheral vision
  • Dark shadow or grey curtain in your side vision
  • Complete and sudden loss of vision

What causes a Retinal Detachment?

A retinal detachment can happen at any age, but it is more prevalent in males over the age of 40.

Other factors that may increase likelihood include:

  • Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)
  • High levels of short-sightedness (myopia)
  • History of retinal detachment
  • Genetics / Family history
  • Injury or trauma to eye or face
  • Prior eye surgery (e.g. cataract surgery)
  • Eye diseases and systemic diseases (e.g. diabetic retinopathy)

Treatment of a Retinal Detachment

The aim of retinal detachment surgery is to halt the progression of vision loss by reattaching the retina to the back of the eye.

The type of surgery recommended for your retinal detachment will depend on the cause, location, and type of detachment as well as any existing eye conditions.

Vitrectomy Surgery – involves intraocular microsurgery to remove the vitreous gel of the eye and a gas bubble or silicone oil is injected into the eye to smooth the retina back into place. If a silicone oil is used, it is removed a few months later by your ophthalmologist.

Scleral Buckle Surgery – performed under anaesthetic and involves attaching a tiny piece of silicone material to the outside of your eye to push the supportive tissue (Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE)), back towards the detached retina. Cryotherapy (freezing) or laser is then used to create a seal any tears or breaks in the retina.

Generally, the sooner the retina is reattached, the better the chances that vision can be maintained or restored.

Watch an overview of retinal tears and retinal detachments

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