A detached or torn retina is a serious but relatively rare condition of the eye, which requires emergency treatment to prevent permanent vision loss.
The retina, a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye, can become detached. The part of the retina that becomes detached loses blood supply and stops working, causing you to lose vision.
It is also possible to tear the retina, which means fluid gets into the space behind the retina, causing it to detach and affect your vision.
Some groups of people are more likely to suffer from retinal detachment than others:
A detached retina is painless, so the first signs you will notice are changes in your vision, such as:
Any of these symptoms on their own may indicate other conditions rather than a detached retina, but if any occur it is important to see your optician or doctor as soon as possible.
If your retina becomes detached or torn, you’ll need surgery to repair it to help restore or stop any loss of vision. A hole or tear in the retina may be treated by a special type of laser treatment called photocoagulation. This fuses the retina to the underlying layer, stopping any fluids that could damage the retina from getting in. Treatment can also involve a technique called scleral buckling. Silicone bands on the outside of the eyeball gently hold the wall of the eye against the retina, allowing it to reattach itself.
If you’re worried you may have symptoms of a detached or torn retina, contact your optician or doctor immediately. If they’re unavailable, visit your nearest emergency department.