The retina is the inner lining of the eye that sends visual information to the brain.

A retinal detachment is a physical separation of the retina from the underlying tissue. A retinal detachment is a very serious and sight threatening condition. To maintain a healthy retina, the retina needs to be attached to the underlying blood supply. The retina cannot perform its intended function when it is detached from its underlying blood supply and supporting tissue.

If a detachment occurs it is essential that the retina be reattached as quickly as possible otherwise permanent vision loss may result.

Symptoms of retinal detachment include: sudden appearance of a number of floaters or black spots in the vision, especially if these are accompanied by flashes of light, or the appearance of a curtain or veil over your vision.

All retinal detachments are accompanied by some loss of visual function, but this will vary depending upon the type of detachment its size and its location.

There are three categories of retinal detachments:

Serous detachment – serous detachments occur when fluid accumulates between the retinal layers but the retina remains physically intact.

Tractional detachment – tractional detachments occur as a result of traction between the retina and the vitreous gel of the eye. This leads to a mechanical detachment of the retina.

Rhegmatogenous detachment – this is the most common form of retinal detachment and results from a tear across the retinal surface which results in fluid accumulating underneath the retina and detaching it from the underlying tissues.

Some retinal detachments can be a tractional-rhegmatogenous combination. This results in a combination of a retinal break as well as traction over the retinal surface. The retinal break is a result of the traction over the retinal surface and is most commonly seen in advanced diabetic eye disease.