Home > Health A – Z > Retinal Detachment

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is a medical emergency. When the retina separates from the back of the eye, it's called retinal detachment. If you see new floaters or light flashes, or if it seems like a curtain has been pulled over your eye, go to your eye care professional right away. With surgery or laser treatment, doctors often can prevent loss of vision.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute on Aging)

About Retinal Detachment

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss.

In some cases there may be small areas of the retina that are torn. These areas, called retinal tears or retinal breaks, can lead to retinal detachment.

There are three different types of retinal detachment:

Rhegmatogenous [reg-ma-TAH-jenous] - A tear or break in the retina allows fluid to get under the retina and separate it from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), the pigmented cell layer that nourishes the retina. These types of retinal detachments are the most common.

Tractional - In this type of detachment, scar tissue on the retina's surface contracts and causes the retina to separate from the RPE. This type of detachment is less common.

Exudative - Frequently caused by retinal diseases, including inflammatory disorders and injury/trauma to the eye. In this type, fluid leaks into the area underneath the retina, but there are no tears or breaks in the retina...More about Retinal Detachment NIH - National Eye Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Retinal detachment

INTRODUCTION: Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment (RRD) is the most common form of retinal detachment, where a retinal 'break' allows the ingress of fluid from the vitreous cavity to the subretinal space, resulting in retinal separation. It occurs in about 1 in 10,000 people a year.

Impact of duration of macula-off retinal detachment in visual outcome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of literature

PURPOSE: To systematically review the influence of the lag time between macula-off retinal detachment and surgical intervention on postoperative visual acuity as main outcome measure.

Primary vitrectomy versus scleral buckling for the treatment of rhegmatogenous retinal detachment: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials

PURPOSE: To compare the efficacy of pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) with that of scleral buckling (SB) in the treatment of uncomplicated, primary rhegmatogenous retinal detachment (RRD).

See all (46)

Summaries for consumers

Interventions for asymptomatic retinal breaks and lattice degeneration for preventing retinal detachment

We reviewed the evidence about whether treatment of retinal breaks (holes or tears in the retina) and retinal lattice degeneration (thinning and atrophy of retinal tissue) can prevent retinal detachment, a serious vision‐threatening problem.

Tamponade in surgery for retinal detachment associated with proliferative vitreoretinopathy

We reviewed the effect of tamponade agents used in surgery involving pars plana vitrectomy in participants with retinal detachment (RD) associated with proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR).

Interventions for prevention of giant retinal tear in the fellow eye

A giant retinal tear is a full‐thickness retinal break that extends for 90 degrees or more around the circumference of the retina, in the presence of posterior vitreous detachment (when the vitreous comes away from the retina). Giant retinal tears cause visual loss as a result of the associated retinal detachment. They can be difficult to treat due to the large area of retinal involvement and the high risk of re‐detachment following vitreoretinal surgery, often related to the development of proliferative vitreoretinopathy (a scarring process that can happen on the inner or outer surface of the retina and in the vitreous cavity after retinal detachment). As the fellow eye has an increased risk of developing giant retinal tear and retinal detachment, prophylactic 360‐degree treatments with laser photocoagulation, cryotherapy or encircling scleral buckling have been proposed to reduce this risk. This review did not find any strong evidence in the form of prospective randomised controlled trials or case‐control studies to support or refute these prophylactic treatments.

See all (12)

More about Retinal Detachment

Photo of an adult

Also called: Detached retina, Sensory retinal detachment

Keep up with systematic reviews on Retinal Detachment:


PubMed Health Blog...

read all...