The Warning Signs of
A Retinal Detachment & What You Should Do
Are You Experiencing These Symptoms?
These symptoms may be warning signs of a retinal detachment. If you have the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
In some individuals with fairly slowly progressing retinal detachments, there may not be any symptoms until the detachment worsens. Hence a comprehensive eye examination by an ophthalmologist is critical, as early treatment would then be possible.
What is a Retinal Detachment?
The retina is the all-important light-sensing structure that lines the back of the eye. It is like the film in a camera, receiving and transmitting light impulses to the brain, allowing us to see.
A retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the wall of the eye, much like how wallpaper peels off the wall.
Experiencing a retinal detachment can be extremely frightening, with sudden hazy vision littered with hundreds of floaters, persisting flashing lights, and emergence of a dark shadow encroaching onto side vision.
What Causes It?
The most common form of retinal detachments are rhegmatogenous, i.e. caused by a retinal tear. As we get older, the vitreous gel in our eyes progressively softens and becomes more liquefied. The end point of this process is an acute posterior vitreous detachment, when the vitreous gel suddenly and rapidly peels away from the retina with enough force to cause a retinal tear.
If a retinal tear is left untreated, vitreous fluid passes through it and separates the retina from the wall of the eye, leading to a retinal detachment. Emergency medical care is absolutely required to treat a retinal detachment.
Are You At Risk?
Your risk for a retinal detachment is increased if you:
- Are older
- Are highly short-sighted
- Have degenerative changes in your retina, e.g. lattice degeneration
- Have had prior eye surgery such as cataract surgery
- Have had previous trauma to the eye
- Have a family history of retinal tears or detachment
Speak To A Specialist
Retinal detachments can potentially cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.
However, with early detection and treatment, it may be possible to restore the same level of vision prior to the retinal detachment, or reduce the extent of visual loss.
If you have any eye concerns or experience the symptoms mentioned, speak to a retina specialist.
Make an Appointment
Monday to Friday: 9am to 6pm
Saturday: 9am to 4pm
*Last Registration Time 2pm
Sunday & PH: Closed
Meet Our Doctor
Dr Errol Chan
MBBS, MMED (OPHTH), MRCSED,
FRCSED, FRCOPHTH, FRCS (GLASG), FAMS
Our ophthalmologist, Dr Errol Chan, has a special interest in vitreoretinal surgery. Dr Chan was awarded scholarship by the Retina Foundation of Canada to pursue a Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship at McGill University in Canada, well-regarded for its high-volume retinal surgery program. He was also accepted in the highly-selective Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship at the world-renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital London in the UK.
Frequently Asked Questions
The first priority of retinal reattachment surgery is in fact not vision itself, but to return the retina back into position. Following that, visual recovery occurs by way of a gradual establishment of nerve connections that will determine the final level of vision in your eye. The extent of visual improvement depends on whether you have a macular-on detachment (where the macula is still attached), or a macula-off detachment (where the macula has been detached).
- In a macular-on detachment, surgical treatment would usually be able to restore the same level of vision as before the detachment had occurred. The shadow that was present in your vision as a result of the detachment would gradually fade in the weeks after surgery.
- In a macular-off detachment where the macula has been detached for only a short amount of time, then it is potentially possible that the final vision may only be mildly disturbed in terms of color, size, contrast, and distortion of objects, provided surgery is performed early.
- Eyes with a macular-off detachment where the macula has been detached for a fairly long interval may still demonstrate an improvement in vision, however the prognosis of visual recovery after the surgery is certainly more conservative. Nevertheless, fixing a macular-off detachment is important, as it salvages vision and also because without treatment, it would eventually lead to total loss of vision over the course of time.
Overall, the visual outcomes of retinal surgery are good, especially given that these retinal detachments are sight-threatening to begin with.