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Retinal detachment

  • Definition

    Retinal detachment is a separation of the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye (the retina) from its supporting layers.


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    The retina is a transparent tissue in the back of the eye. It helps you see the images that are focused on it by the cornea and the lens. Retinal detachments are often associated with a tear or hole in the retina through which eye fluids may leak. This causes separation of the retina from the underlying tissues.

    Retinal detachment often occurs on its own without an underlying cause. However, it may also be caused by trauma, diabetes, or an inflammatory disorder. It is most often caused by a related condition called posterior vitreous detachment.

    During a retinal detachment, bleeding from small retinal blood vessels may cloud the interior of the eye, which is normally filled with vitreous fluid. Central vision becomes severely affected if the macula, the part of the retina responsible for fine vision, becomes detached.

    The risk factors are previous eye surgery, nearsightedness, a family history of retinal detachment, uncontrolled diabetes, and trauma.