What is retinal detachment?
Retinal detachment is a sight-threatening condition, where the inner layer of the retina becomes separated from the outer layer. Once separated, the light-sensitive photoreceptors cells don’t work properly and the area of vision served by the affected retina is lost, unless the retina is repaired.
Retinal detachment occurs in approximately one in every thousand of the population, and is most common in the age group 40-70 years, with approximately 7,300 new cases a year in the UK.
How does this happen?
In most cases a retinal detachment occurs due to a break in the retina. This is often the result of a change in the vitreous jelly that fills the space inside the eye. If the vitreous jelly pulls against the retina, it is possible for a weak area to crack or tear, then allowing the liquid vitreous to get underneath the tear and to separate the inner and outer layers of the retina. This is the start of a detached retina. As soon as the central area of the retina is affected (the macula) then the vision becomes very poor. If only peripheral areas of the retina are affected then there will be a dark area in the peripheral vision corresponding to the size and position of the affected retina.