This is when the retina detaches, meaning it is lifted or separated from its normal position within the eye. An acute retinal detachment requires urgent assessment and appropriate treatment. Unless prompt and effective treatment is given, some forms of retinal detachment may lead to irreversible blindness.
Signs and symptoms include: a sudden or gradual increase in floaters, deterioration in vision, cobwebs or specks with the visual field, light flashes in the eye or the appearance of curtains over the visual field. You are more likely to have a retinal detachment if you are very short-sighted or have had an injury or previous surgery to the eye.
For minor detachments, laser or freeze treatment (cryopexy) are used. Both therapies re-attach the retina. For major detachment, surgery will be necessary. A band is often put around the back of the eye to prevent further detachment. Surgical treatment is usually a vitrectomy, where the jelly (vitreous) is removed from the eye. This often involves a hospital stay. It can take several months post-surgery to see the final visual result.
Click here to find a patient information brochure about floaters, flashers and retinal detachment.