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Retinal Detachment

The retina lines the back wall of the eye, and is responsible for absorbing and converting light into an electrical signal sent to the brain via the optic nerve allowing you to see. Several conditions may lead to a retinal detachment wherein the retina separates from the back wall of the eye. Before detaching, the retina often experiences a tear.

Chart Illustrating a Retinal Detachment in an Eye


Signs that can indicate a retinal tear include seeing flashes and floaters. These signs can be alerting you to a potential detachment. Prompt evaluation by an ophthalmologist may find the retinal tear before it causes a retinal detachment. Laser surgery can often prevent the retina from detaching, helping patients avoid a more serious procedure.

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With an actual retinal detachment, in addition to floaters and flashing light, patients often experience a progressively enlarging curtain or dark shadow in one eye. The curtain usually starts in the peripheral vision and eventually may spread to the central vision. The severity of symptoms correlate to the extent of the detachment. Quick evaluation and treatment are crucial to repair and prevent further damage.


A Sabates retina specialist can perform a detailed eye exam, which includes examination of the peripheral retina. Further testing may include additional imaging of the retina to determine if a tear or detachment is present and the precise location of the problem.

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Several surgery approaches can be used to repair retinal detachments and tears, each one designed to treat different types and severities of detachments or tears. The goal is to re-attach the retina to the back wall of the eye and/or seal tears or holes that caused the detachment. 


Most cases result in successful re-attachments, though more than one procedure is sometimes needed to do so successfully. Vision recovery depends on the patient’s pre-operative vision and other individual factors.