Is a Detached Retina Dangerous?

Your eye’s retina has a very important job. It sends images to your brain via the optic nerve. If not treated right away, a detached retina can lead to blindness, which makes it a dangerous eye injury.

What is a Detached Retina?

A retinal attachment occurs when the retina, which is a thin layer of tissue located at the back of the eye pulls away from its normal position. When this happens, the cells of the retina are separated from blood vessels that provide oxygen and nourishment to the retina. If left untreated, the risk is permanent vision loss in the affected eye as the damage to the retina grows.

There are three types of retinal detachment:

  1. Rhegmatogenous detachment, which is the most common type and is often associated with aging
  2. Tractional detachment, which is commonly seen in people who have poorly-controlled diabetes
  3. Exudative detachment, which can occur with age-related macular degeneration, inflammatory disorders, or an eye injury

Certain factors like being over 50 years old, having a previous detachment or severe eye injury, being extremely nearsighted, or having a family history of retinal detachments increases your risk of a detached retina. A sudden traumatic eye injury can also cause a retina to detach.

Warning Signs a Detachment Has Occurred

There is no pain when a retina detaches, and it usually occurs quite suddenly. Therefore, it is important to know the warning signs, especially if you are at a higher risk for detachment. When a retina detaches, the vision in your affected eye can suddenly become blurry, but there are several other warning signs, including:

  • Flashes of light in one or both your eyes
  • Sudden appearance of many floaters in your field of vision
  • Curtain-like shadow over your field of vision
  • Gradually reduced peripheral vision
  • Distortion of straight lines that now seem curved
  • Heavy feeling in your eye

Get Help Immediately for a Detached Retina

A detached retina is a medical emergency that cannot wait. Your eye doctor will need to take steps to prevent further detachment and to locate and repair the existing retinal tears to prevent permanent damage.

If you suspect that you or a member of your family has a detached retina, you must act quickly to prevent permanent vision loss. Contact Valley Eyecare’s eye doctors by calling (602) 955-2700 or go to your local emergency room after hours.