What is Retinal Detachment?

Dr. Michael Kapusta, MD, FRSCS, Ophthalmologist, talks about what a retinal detachment is, including causes and symptoms.

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Dr. Michael Kapusta, MD, FRSCS, Ophthalmologist, talks about what a retinal detachment is, including causes and symptoms.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Michael Kapusta, MD, FRSCS, Ophthalmologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

A retinal detachment is a separation of the inner lining of the eye. The eye has many structures, including the cornea in the front of the eye, the lens in the middle, and the retina, which lines the inside of the structure of the wall.

A detachment of the retina means that the retina has a hole in it, and through that hole liquid causes a separation. The detachment typically starts in the peripheral part of the retina, and then may extend towards the central area, which can make somebody lose their central vision.

The causes of retinal detachment are typically from a patient who might be highly myopic or myopic, which means short-sighted. Patients who have had trauma, and patients also who have had cataract surgery.

Despite the success of cataract surgery, about one percent of patients who have had cataract surgery will eventually develop a retinal detachment, and this typically occurs during the first one or two years after the cataract extraction.

Unfortunately, that even occurs with perfect surgery and without complications whatsoever. If the cataract surgery is complicated, the rates of retinal detachment do climb to a higher degree than one or two percent.

The signs of retinal detachment typically include flashes of light, or floaters, and this may then within a short period of time progress to loss of peripheral vision. It’s unfortunate that in some cases there’s absolutely no symptoms, and no signs, and patients present late with loss of vision when they realize when covering one eye that the other eye doesn’t see.

More commonly however, and fortunately, those early signs direct patients to seek out attention with their optometrist or ophthalmologist so that they can be diagnosed.

If you have more questions about retinal detachment, you could seek out attention from your optometrist or your ophthalmologist, who may then send you to be seen by a vitreoretinal specialist.

Presenter: Dr. Michael Kapusta, Ophthalmologist, Montreal, QC

Local Practitioners: Ophthalmologist

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Do You Understand Retinal Detachment?


A retinal detachment can lead to the loss of central vision.


A retinal detachment requires immediate medical care, as it can lead to the loss of central vision.


Patients who have undergone cataract surgery have a higher risk of developing a retinal detachment.


Retinal detachment causes include being highly myopic (nearsighted), patients who have experienced trauma to the eye, and patients who have undergone cataract surgery.


Floaters aren't a symptom of a retinal detachment.


Retinal detachment symptoms include flashes of light, floaters and loss of peripheral vision. However, some patients don’t notice any symptoms, or only notice an issue when they lose vision.


Your ophthalmologist will usually recommend the scleral buckle procedure first.


A patient’s age and their previous ocular history, including history of surgery, do have implications in terms of what type of repair your vitreoretinal surgeon might choose to use.


There are three types of surgery your ophthalmologist may recommend.


Your ophthalmologist may suggest scleral buckle, pneumatic retinopexy or vitrectomy to repair a retinal detachment.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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