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A retinal detachment is 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. It usually occurs as a result of vitreous contraction in an aging eye which causes traction to the retina and may result in a retinal tear or break. In most cases the vitreous contracts and does not cause any problems, this is known as a posterior vitreous detachment and it results in floaters in the eye. The incidence of retinal detachment is extremely low. This condition occurs in approximately 1 in 15000 people. The risk is higher in very short-sighted people, in those who have underwent eye surgery such as cataract surgery or in those who have had an injury to their eye.
Symptoms include flashing lights and/or a sudden onset of black spots in the vision (floaters), and a sudden decrease in vision. There are a number of treatment options which include procedures such as argon laser to the retina, 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.