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A retinal detachment occurs when the retina’s sensory and pigment layers separate and fluid collects between the two layers. It causes devastating effects to vision if not treated promptly and is regarded as an ocular emergency.

Retinal detatchement usually occurs as a result of vitreous changes in an aging eye which causes traction to the retina and may result in a retinal tear or break.

In most people the vitreous contracts and does not cause any problems; this is known as a posterior vitreous detachment and results in floaters in the eye.

Symptoms include flashing lights and/or a sudden onset of black spots in the vision (floaters), and a sudden decrease in vision. The incidence of retinal detachment is extremely low, occurring in approximately 1 in 15,000 people. The risk is higher in very short-sighted people, in those who have undergone eye surgery such as cataract surgery, or in those who have had an injury to their eye.

There are a number of treatment options including procedures such as argon laser, cryotherapy, pneumatic retinopexy, vitrectomy and scleral buckle. It is a successful procedure in approximately 90% of cases, and the earlier it is treated the greater the success.