Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment is when your retina pulls away from the back of your eye. A retinal tear or retinal detachment may lead to a sudden increase in floaters as well as flashes. You might notice a shadow at the edge of your vision too.

What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment needs immediate attention. If you get any of the following symptoms and you cannot contact your optometrist, you should get urgent attention, ideally from an eye casualty department at the hospital. It is important that you get advice as soon as you can if you have:

  • a sudden increase in floaters, particularly if you also notice flashing lights
  • a new, large, floater
  • a change in floaters or flashing lights after you have had a direct blow to your eye
  • a shadow spreading across the vision of one of your eyes.

An ophthalmologist, a specialist eye doctor, will need to use eye drops and a special light to look inside your eyes to check if your retina is damaged.

Who is at risk of retinal detachment?

Some people are more at risk of retinal detachment. These are people who:

  • have had eye surgery, such as cataract operation or laser surgery after a cataract operation
  • are moderately short-sighted (over -3.00D)
  • have had a previous eye injury
  • have a family history of retinal detachment
  • have had a previous retinal detachment in that eye or the other eye
  • are over the age of 50
  • have certain retinal diseases such as lattice or other retinal degeneration
  • have certain systematic diseases such as Marfan syndrome.