The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue lining the inside of the eye. This tissue is responsible for capturing light and sending the message to the brain through the optic nerve. If the retina is detached from its normal position in the eye, it can sometimes cause permanent vision loss.
Common symptoms with retinal detachments include flashes of light, an increase in "floaters" which are tiny specks or spots that float in your vision, or the appearance of "spiderwebs" or a shady veil in your vision. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately as this constitutes an ocular emergency.
Retinal detachments can occur in people at any age, but there are some people at higher risk than others. It seems to affect women more than men, and Caucasians more than African Americans. It can also occur in people who are extremely nearsighted, have a previous history of a retinal detachment, have had any eye surgery, or has experienced trauma to the eye.
Retinal tears or holes, which often preceed a detachment, can be treated using laser surgery or a freeze treatment to help reattach the tissue to the back of the eye. Surgery for a retinal detachment may include the use of a scleral buckle, which is a tiny synthetic band that is implanted to help hold the tissue in place. More than 90% of retinal detachments can be successfully treated if caught early.