What are the signs of retinal detachment?

The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of the eye that helps transmit visual information to the brain. If the retina tears, the pressure created by the fluid naturally found within the eye can cause it to separate from the nerves and blood vessels to which it is normally attached. This condition, known as retinal detachment, can cause vision loss if left untreated. Learning to recognize the signs of retinal detachment, such as spots or flashes in your visual field, can help prevent permanent vision damage.

Retinal detachment usually begins when the retina tears. Tearing of this tissue can be caused by a head injury, a medical condition such as diabetes, or even simple myopia. Sometimes it tears when the naturally bonded gel layer begins to separate, an event that can be caused by sudden trauma to the eye or aging. If this gel is pulled apart with too much force, it can create a hole in the retina. Regardless of its cause, once a retinal tear exists, the area behind it can fill with eye fluid, and the pressure created by that fluid can cause the retina itself to separate from the nerves and vessels to which it is normally attached .

It is important to be able to recognize the signs of retinal detachment, as an untreated detachment can quickly lead to permanent vision loss. One of the most common signs of retinal detachment is the appearance of a large number of "floaters" or spots in the visual field. These "floaters" may become more visible when the affected eye is closed.

Many people with retinal detachment also notice flashes of light in their visual field. These flashes can look like a light that quickly flashes on and off or a camera flash. Flashes are often detected at the outer edges of the visual field. Another commonly experienced sign of retinal detachment is the perception of a shadow over part of the visual field. In other words, it may suddenly seem that a part of the visual field has become darker than the rest of the field.

Experiencing one or more of these common signs of retinal detachment does not necessarily mean that one has the condition. However, as an untreated detachment can quickly lead to permanent vision loss, therefore ignoring these signs is generally not advisable. Those who believe they may be experiencing one or more signs of retinal detachment should see an optometrist.

Go up