Your retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of your eye. The retina receives light and sends signals to the brain so that you can see. When the retina lifts away from the back of the eye, it’s called a retinal detachment. This is an emergency situation.

Retinal detachment causes

Age is an important factor in retinal detachment, since the vitreous fluid in our eyes shrinks and gets thinner as we age. When the vitreous fluid sticks to the retina and pulls hard enough to tear it, fluid can pass through the tear and detach the retina.

You’re at risk for retinal detachment if you are nearsighted, have had cataract or other eye surgery, had a serious eye injury, or have family members who have had a retinal detachment.

Symptoms of retinal detachment

If you have symptoms of retinal detachment, you could lose your vision in that eye. Call your ophthalmologist right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • See flashing lights all of a sudden
  • Have sudden blurred vision
  • Notice many new floaters, which look like specks, lines or cobwebs in your field of vision
  • A shadow appears in your side vision
  • A gray curtain covers part of your field of vision

Diagnosis of retinal detachment

Your ophthalmologist will dilate your eye by adding eye drops. Then they will use a special lens to look in your eye to check for changes in your retina.

You may also have ultrasound imaging done to check for bleeding in the eye.

Treatment of retinal detachment

The following surgeries may be done to repair your detached retina:

  • Pneumatic retinopexy. This puts a gas bubble inside your eye to push the retina back into place. You will need to keep your head in a specific position for a few days to keep the bubble in the right place. Your body will make more fluid as your eye heals, and eventually this fluid will replace the gas bubble.
  • Vitrectomy. This removes the vitreous fluid that is pulling on your retina. The vitreous fluid will be replaced with a gas, air or oil bubble that pushes the retina back into place. If an oil bubble is used, your ophthalmologist will remove it a few months later. If gas or air is used, you should not fly, travel to high altitudes or scuba dive, because the altitude change will make the gas expand and cause an increase in eye pressure.
  • Scleral buckling. The surgeon sutures a piece of silicone material to the white part of your eye. This indents the wall of your eye and relieves some of the pressure caused by the vitreous fluid tugging at your retina. This procedure also puts your retinal back in place.

Why choose Ohio State for retinal detachment treatment

Our ophthalmologists come from a diverse range of backgrounds with training from eye institutes across the country and the world. At The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Havener Eye Institute, we share a common goal of providing evidence-based and compassionate medical care to our patients. At the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, we all share a common goal and passion to improve people’s lives through innovation in research, education and community service. Our Retina Division’s efforts in research are unparalleled when it comes to our focus on preventing and reversing blindness in our own community as well as across the world.

Our Providers