Common Symptoms of a Detached Retina

Are you noticing more “floaters,” or cobweb-like specks in your field of vision? Are you seeing flashes of light? These are a few symptoms of a retinal detachment, and it is a medical emergency. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. If you’re having any symptoms of a retinal detachment, see an eye care professional immediately.

“Early detection of symptoms and seeking care promptly is of great benefit to the patient,” said Dr. Peter A. Nixon.

The retina is a key factor in your normal, healthy vision. This light-sensitive layer of tissue lines the inside of your eye and transmits visual messages through the optic nerve to your brain. When the retina detaches, it is pulled or lifted from its normal position.

Symptoms of a detached retina

You may be surprised to learn that retinal detachment is painless. However, warning signs almost always occur before detachment occurs or as it is progressing. These critical signs include:

  • Multiple floaters (tiny specks that seem to drift through your field of vision) suddenly appearing
  • Seeing flashes of light in one or both eyes (photopsia)
  • Experiencing blurred vision
  • Noticing a gradual reduction inside (peripheral) vision
  • Seeing a curtain-like shadow over your visual field

“Flashes and floaters can indicate a retinal tear or retinal detachment. The only way to establish the diagnosis is to be examined by your eye doctor,” explains Dr. Nixon. “Early detection of symptoms and prompt evaluation are very important in preventing loss of vision.”

Are you at risk for retinal detachment?

Although retinal detachment can happen at any age, it is more common in Caucasian men over age 40. You have a greater risk for retinal detachment if you:

  • Have had a retinal detachment in the other eye
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Are extremely nearsighted
  • Have undergone cataract surgery
  • Have other eye diseases or disorders, such as degenerative myopia, retinoschisis, uveitis or lattice degeneration
  • Have had an eye injury

Central Texas’ most trusted care for detached retina and other eye conditions

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms of retinal detachment, immediate treatment is vital to saving your vision. If you live in Central Texas, Austin Retina Associates has three locations to serve you: Austin, South Austin and Round Rock.

Should you need retinal surgery in Austin, Texas, rest assured, our board-certified physicians, licensed ophthalmologist and fellowship-trained retinal specialist are ready and able to help. In addition to providing advanced, accurate diagnostics, our experienced and caring physicians are skilled in the latest, minimally-invasive, outpatient surgical techniques. Let our team of experts help you manage diseases of the retina, vitreous and macula so you enjoy the best possible eye health and vision.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 800-252-8259 or use our easy online form.


What Does the Retina Do?

The retina is an essential part of the eye that enables vision. It’s a thin layer of tissue that covers approximately 65 percent of the back of the eye, near the optic nerve. Its job is to receive light from the lens, convert it to neural signals and transmit them to the brain for visual recognition.

Because the retina and optic nerve originate as outgrowths of the developing brain, they are both considered part of the central nervous system and brain tissue.

What is the primary function of the retina?

The eye has many parts that must work together in order to produce clear vision. The retina is made up of ten layers of cells that work together to detect light and turn it into electrical impulses. These special cells are called cones and rods and are known as photoreceptors:

  • Cones
    Cones are located in the central, or macula, part of the retina. These cells help detect color and detail. Similarly, the macula allows us to perform fine functions like reading, writing, typing and clearly recognizing people’s facial details (e.g., freckles).
  • Rods
    Rods are located in the peripheral, or outer, part of the retina. These cells allow us to see in poor lighting and provide us with night vision.

How can I tell if there is a problem with my retinas?

There are many ways to tell if you’re suffering from retinal damage, tears or detachment, including:

  • Sudden onset of floaters (small to large dark spots blocking your vision)
  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Gradual reduction in peripheral (side) vision
  • Curtain-like shadow over your visual field

How can I treat a damaged retina?

If you believe you are suffering from a retinal tear or detachment, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Retinal damage that goes untreated may lead to permanent vision loss and blindness. Retinal tears and detachments can be repaired with procedures and surgeries such as:

  • Laser
    A laser makes small burns around the retinal tear. The resulting scar seals the retina to the underlying tissue, which helps prevent further damage, like retinal detachment.
  • Freezing treatment (cryotherapy)
    A special freezing probe applies intense cold and freezes the retina around the retinal tear. The resulting scar helps secure the retina to the eye wall.
  • Scleral buckle
    A flexible band (scleral buckle) around the eye acts as a counter weight to the force that’s pulling the retina out of place. This procedure is performed in an operating room.
  • Pneumatic retinopexy
    A gas bubble is injected into the vitreous space (gel-like substance in the center of the eye) in combination with laser surgery or cryotherapy. This bubble gently pushes the retinal detachment back into place at the back of the eye.
  • Vitrectomy
    Often used in conjunction with a scleral buckle procedure, vitrectomy replaces the vitreous gel with a gas bubble to keep the retina in place. Your body’s own fluids will gradually replace the gas bubble.

Austin Retina Associates has more than 40 years experience performing retinal surgery with excellent outcomes. Call 800-252-8259 to schedule an appointment.