The retina is a nerve layer at the back of your eye that senses light and sends images to your brain. The eye is like a camera. Think of the retina as the film that lines the back of a camera. The lens in the front of the eye focuses light onto the retina.

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position. The retina does not work when it is detached. Vision is blurred, just as a photographic image would be blurry if the film were loose inside the camera. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes blindness unless it is treated.

A clear gel called vitreous fills the middle of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may pull away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye.

Usually the vitreous separates from the retina without causing problems. But sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places. Fluid may pass through the retinal tear, lifting the retina off the back of the eye.

Conditions that increase the chance of having a retinal detachment include, nearsightedness, previous cataract surgery, glaucoma, severe injury or trauma, previous retinal detachment in your other eye or family history of retinal detachment

Certain symptoms may indicate the presence of a retinal detachment, however they do not always mean a retinal detachment is present. These include, flashing lights, new floaters, a shadow in the periphery of your field of vision, or a gray curtain moving across your field of vision.

Most retinal tears need to be treated with laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing), which seals the retina to the back wall of the eye. These treatments cause little or no discomfort. Treatment usually prevents retinal detachment.

Almost all patients with retinal detachments require surgery to return the retina to its proper position. There are several ways to fix a retinal detachment. The characteristics of your detachment will determine the type of surgery to be performed and the form of anesthesia to be used.