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Early Signs of a Detached Retina

Most people have some understanding of the important role the retina plays in their eye sight. If you think of your eye as a camera, your retina is like the film – it’s where the eye creates the images and visuals of our world.¬†With that image in mind, it’s easy to understand the severe affects a detached retina could have on not only your sight, but your life as well. When the retina detaches, the membrane layer separates from the eye wall causing a series of changes to vision and potentially leads to blindness if the condition goes untreated.

The causes of retinal detachment are varied. They can include glaucoma, cataracts, nearsightedness, injuries to the head and eyes and previous eye conditions. Family history and genetics can also play a role. Early treatment for a detached – or detaching – retina is vital to prevent vision loss and an examination by an eye care professional is essential if you have any of the following symptoms.

The Appearance of Floaters
Floaters are the sometimes frustrating and distracting grayish spots that pass through your vision as your eye moves. They are “created” when vitreous, the substance in the back of the eye between the retina and lens, separates from the retina or a retina detaches, releasing the gel-like substance. Vitreous can cause further trouble by breaching the space created by a retinal separation and fully detaching a partially detached retina. The sudden appearance of floaters is an indication that treatment by an eye care professional may be necessary to prevent potential vision loss.

Light Flashes
Another early symptom of a detached retina is flickers of flashes of light. The eye usually takes in patterns of light; the retina processes the electrical impulses to the brain where it perceives the “whole” image. But stimulation of the retina not from vision – if the retina is detached and touching surrounding tissue – can send electrical impulses that the brain processes as flickering or flashes of light.

The Sensation of a Shadow in Peripheral Vision
The appearance in your peripheral field of vision of a “shadow” is also often an early sign of a detaching or detached retina. This is caused by the detached areas of the retina not functioning and processing light, leading to partial vision loss in the nonfunctioning areas. A side effect of this might be fuzzy vision in the areas of vision still functioning because of broken blood vessels in the retina bleeding into the eye’s usually clear vitreous.