A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes blindness unless treated. The appearance of flashing lights, floating objects, or a gray curtain moving across the field of vision are all indications of a retinal detachment. If any of these occur, see your ophthalmologist right away. The video below provides a brief visual overview of what occurs when a retina detachment occurs and is immediately followed by a brief video explaining a retinal tear.
Please click below for a brief but detailed animation.
As one gets older, the vitreous inside of the eye tends to shrink slightly and take on a more watery consistency. Sometimes as the vitreous shrinks it exerts enough force on the retina to make it tear.
Retinal tears increase the chance of developing a retinal detachment. Vitreous fluid, passing through the tear, lifts the retina off the back of the eye like wallpaper peeling off a wall. A retinal detachment begins as a small hole in the retina. As fluid collects behind the retina, more of it is detached. If the retina is detached, it must be reattached before sealing the retinal tear.
Most retinal holes or tears can be treated with
laser therapy or
cryotherapy to prevent their progression to a full-scale detachment. If a retinal detachment occurs, your surgeon will recommend
pneumatic retinopexy or
vitrectomy to treat the detachment.