Retinal detachment is rare; nonetheless: retinal detachment can have considerable consequences for the eyesight and daily living, and this recently happened to one of our NovaVision colleagues. We are taking this as an opportunity to inform you about this disease and its first signs. If diagnosed in time, there are very good treatment options and the retinal detachment itself can be prevented.

A Retinal Tear as Precursor of Retinal Detachment

Before the actual retinal detachment occurs there is often a tear in the retina. This can be determined by the following symptoms:

  • Light flashes, which occurs mainly with jerky eye movements, or in the dark. (Light flashes and dots which occur as a result of fluctuations in blood pressure, for example when standing up or re-erecting after bending, are harmless!)
  • Semi-transparent streaks that “migrate” with eye movements. These are usually so-called “Mouches volantes” which are annoying but not dangerous, however should always be checked by your attending ophthalmologist
  • A “rain of soot”, the perception of a large amount of small black dots or floating particles sinking downwards within your eye

Treatment of a Retinal Tear

These symptoms can be indicative of the retina being torn.  Such a tear in the retina can be “repaired” by means of a laser, similar to a weld – a retinal scar remains and at this position a very small visual field defect that typically stays unnoticed.

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, you should consult your ophthalmologist or a hospital emergency department immediately. Please note: the symptoms are temporary, after they subside you feel – at first- fine again. For this reason, a person affected might feel that a visit to the ophthalmologist is no longer necessary. This can be a false conclusion with serious consequences, as described below.

Retinal Detachment

If a retinal tear is not treated, fluid from the vitreous body or from the choroid membrane (in the case of inflammation or damage) can migrate under the retina and lead to detachment. The detached part of the retina would then no longer be sufficiently supplied with nutrients. A progressive detachment manifests itself as a curtain that pulls from side to side, from top to bottom or from bottom to top and turns black.

When the retina detaches itself in the area of the macula, central visual acuity is compromised: only blurred and distorted vision will remain. Retinal detachment does not cause any pain. Untreated retinal detachment can lead to blindness of the eye affected.

Possible reasons for a Retinal Detachment

  • The vitreous body shrinks with increasing age and may lift off the retina. In areas where it is conjoined with the retina, a tear might then develop
  • Blunt force trauma e.g. an object or a child’s finger bouncing against the eye
  • Result of a cataract-operation
  • Inflammatory processes in the choroid membrane, e.g. diabetic retinopathy in cases of diabetes mellitus



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Treatment of a Retinal Detachment

Depending on the position and extent of the detachment, there are different operative options, either externally or internally to the eye. The aim is to reattach the retina with the aid of seals, tapes or a laser weld. These operations will not be able to restore previous vision, their main goal is prevention of further detachment. However, an improvement of vision is often observed in the course of the operation.

If at all possible, the reason for the detachment must also be treated, e.g.  fluids between retina and choroid membrane need to be removed, inflammation needs to be treated.

If you have already incurred a Retinal Detachment…

or simply want to learn more about it, you can find more information here or go to this support group website here.

Unfortunately, NovaVision cannot treat visual field loss as a result of retinal detachment with our Vision Restoration Therapy but we can after all provide information about it and wish you all the best, because your eyesight is very previous! In some cases, following treatment for retinal detachment, there may be a need to retrain yourself to scan your environment effectively. Our NeuroEyeCoach training program is a home-based computer program which is designed to help people scan their environment effectively, re-integrate left and right vision and make the most of their visual field. We would be happy to provide more information on NeuroEyeCoach and discuss its suitability.

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