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What is a retinal detachment?


Learn more about this sight-threatening condition!

Did you know that a flash of light, or a floater or spot in your vision, can be a sign that you have a serious retinal condition? The retina is a very sensitive and important structure that lines the inside of your eye. It is the layer of cells that do the “seeing”. These cells, called photoreceptors, capture light that enters your eye and it changes the light into a chemical signal that gets sent to your brain for processing.

The retina can “fall off”!

This is what a retinal detachment is. The retina becomes detached from the back of the eye and “falls off”. When those cells are pulled apart or disconnected, then those cells will not be able to function. *Think of disconnecting your computer monitor from your computer.*

What symptoms might I experience?

Most people will notice some sort of strange spot(s) in their vision. It can be any size and in any location. There can be many small spots, or one large spot. It might move when you look at it, but it might not. Some people will also see flashes of light in their peripheral vision, that look like lightning strikes. Often, these will be easier to see when in a dark room or dark setting.

One important thing to note is that you will NOT experience pain. There are no pain receptors in the retina and therefore you will not feel any pain; even if the retina is torn.

What should I do?

If you suspect you may be having a retinal detachment, time is of the essence. Seek medical attention immediately! During daytime hours, call your optometrist and get your eyes checked right away. If it is after hours, some optometrists will be “on call” that you can see. At Vision Source Mandan, we do offer ways for you to contact one of our doctors after hours if you think you are having an emergency with your eyes by calling our office number 701-663-0313.

If you do have a retinal detachment, you will need immediate surgery to have it repaired. The longer the cells are disconnected, the more damage is done.

The key point is that it is better to be safe than sorry. We’d much rather have a “false alarm” retinal detachment than to let the real thing go untreated. An untreated retinal detachment can result in permanent unfixable blindness.


Top image property of Vision Source Mandan and is not to be used without written permission.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.