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Retinal Detachment - Exams and Tests

To diagnose retinal detachment, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, past eye problems, and risk factors. The doctor will also test your near and distance vision (visual acuity) and side (peripheral) vision. These routine vision tests do not detect retinal detachment, but they can find problems that could lead to or result from retinal detachment.

A doctor can usually see a retinal tear or detachment while examining the retina using ophthalmoscopy. This test allows the doctor to see inside the back of the eye using a magnifying instrument with a light.

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If a retinal tear or detachment involves blood vessels in the retina, you may have bleeding in the middle of the eye. In these cases, your doctor can view the retina using ultrasound, a test that uses sound waves to form an image of the retina on a computer screen.

Early detection

If you have a condition that puts you at high risk for retinal detachment—such as nearsightedness, recent cataract surgery, diabetes, a family history of retinal detachment, or a prior retinal detachment in your other eye—talk to your doctor about how often you should have your eyes checked. You may need more frequent exams to detect problems in their early stages.

Many retinal detachments are triggered when the vitreous gel that fills the center of the eye shrinks and separates from the retina, which is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). The main symptoms of PVD are dark floaters and flashes of light. It is important to pay attention to these symptoms, because they could be a warning sign of a retinal tear that can lead to detachment. Getting treatment quickly after you notice these symptoms can save your vision.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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