The retina is a thin layer of light sensitive tissue that lines the inside of the eye. A retinal detachment is when the retina peels away from its layer of supportive tissue and requires immediate medical attention.
Retinal tears are often the cause for retinal detachment. A retinal tear occurs when the fluid in the eye (vitreous) pulls up a flap of the retina, allowing the vitreous to pass through the hole and get beneath the retina, separating it from the back wall of the eye.
A sudden increase in floaters or specks in the field of vision, flashes of light or the appearance of a dark veil over the field of vision are all symptoms of a retinal detachment.
While small holes and tears are treated with laser surgery or cryopexy (a freeze treatment) to seal the retina back into place, retinal detachments may require a more extensive surgery. A scleral buckle is put in place on the outside of the eyeball to press the wall of the eye against the detached retina. A vitrectomy may also be recommended, a procedure in which the vitreous gel is removed and replaced with a bubble of gas to push the retina back against the wall of the eye.