A detached retina is when the thin layer at the back of your eye (retina) becomes loose. It needs to be treated quickly to stop it permanently affecting your sight.

Get an urgent opticians appointment if:

  • dots or lines (floaters) suddenly appear in your vision or suddenly increase in number
  • you get flashes of light in your vision
  • you have a dark “curtain” or shadow moving across your vision

These could be symptoms of a detached retina.

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If you can’t get an urgent appointment:

Go to A&E or call 111 for advice straight away.

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Treatment for a detached retina

You’ll be referred to hospital for surgery if tests show your retina may be detached or has started to come away (retinal tear).

This will usually stop your vision getting worse.

Causes of a detached retina

A detached retina is usually caused by changes to the jelly inside your eye, which can happen as you get older. This is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

It’s not clear exactly why PVD can lead to retinal detachment in some people and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. But it’s more likely to happen if you:

  • are short-sighted
  • have had an eye operation (such as cataract surgery)
  • have had an eye injury
  • have a family history of retinal detachment