Symptoms and Signs of Retinal Detachment

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is a condition where the retina, which is normally lies flush with the inside back wall of the eye, detaches and no longer lies flush. Signs and symptoms of retinal detachment are blurred, dim and/or distorted vision. Some individuals describe a cloud or curtain-like obstruction of vision. Usually there is no pain associated with retinal detachment unless it is associated with inflammation or elevated eye pressure. Some patients may experience floaters and flashing lights prior to retinal detachment. A physician can observe retinal tears and detachments with special ophthalmoscopy; the outside of the eye looks typically normal.

The most common cause of retinal detachment is when the vitreous gel inside the eye contracts and pulls or tears the retina away from its flush position against the eye wall. Gel retraction can occur over time or suddenly after trauma. Other conditions associated with an increased risk of retinal detachment include diabetes, sickle cell disease, scar tissue, high myopia, retinal degeneration, inflammatory disorders, autoimmune diseases and certain cancers.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.