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Eye Health Center

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Retinal Detachment - What Happens

Retinal detachment can progress quickly. Because retinal detachment affects side (peripheral) vision first, you may not notice the vision loss right away. If not treated, detachment can spread to the center of the retina (macula) and damage central vision.

Retinal detachment requires urgent care. Without treatment, vision loss from retinal detachment can progress from minor to severe or even to blindness within a few hours or days.

Retinal tears and holes, though, may not need treatment. The retina sometimes develops small, round holes as it ages, and many of them will not lead to retinal detachment. Retinal tears caused by the vitreous gel pulling on the retina (vitreous traction) are more likely to cause retinal detachments.

Tears in the retina caused by vitreous traction tend to cause flashes and floaters. A tear that does not occur with vitreous traction and therefore develops without symptoms is far less likely to lead to a retinal detachment than a tear that occurs with symptoms.

If the retina has detached, you will need surgery to reattach it and restore vision. If you have had a retinal detachment camera.gif in one eye, you have a greater chance of developing one in the other eye.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    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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