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Sudden Bright Flashes of Light Could Signal a Major Problem: Retinal Detachment

Closeup of an eye

A torn or detached retina is a serious condition that can lead to severe vision impairment or blindness. The retina lines the back of your eye and contains light-sensitive cells. When light enters your eye and comes in contact with the retina, these cells transmit information to your brain through the optic nerve, where the brain turns the light into images.

Retinal detachment is often painless, but there are symptoms that can tip you off that there is something amiss. These symptoms include bright flashes of light, floaters, or impaired peripheral vision.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should get medical attention immediately. The sooner retinal problems are addressed, the better your chances are of preserving your vision. At University Retina, our fellowship-trained retina specialists and ophthalmologists have the experience to repair detached retinas and save your eyesight.

What is Retinal Detachment?

Your inner eye is filled with a gel-like substance called vitreous. If the vitreous of your eye becomes clumped together, it can pull the retina away from the back of your eye. Sometimes problems with the vitreous can cause a retinal tear that may lead to detachment.

When the retina is detached from the back wall of your eye, it’s disconnected from the blood vessels that provide it with essential oxygen and nutrients. The longer it’s detached, the more damage to your vision it causes. That’s why you should contact your doctor immediately if you notice the warning symptoms of flashers and floaters.

Types of Retinal Detachment

There are three types of retinal detachment, each caused by different factors. Rhegmatogenous is the most common form of retinal detachment. It’s caused, initially, by a tear in the retina. As a result of this tear, vitreous fluid seeps under the retina, causing it to become detached.

Tractional retinal detachment is caused by scar tissue on the retina’s surface. This scar tissue causes the retina to contract and eventually detach. Exudative retinal detachment is the result of other eye health conditions such as inflammatory disorders and eye trauma.

Causes and Risk Factors of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can affect men and women of any age, but it is more common in older people. Other risk factors include:

Treatment for Retinal Detachment

A detached retina requires surgery, and there are several different types of surgery. The board-certified ophthalmologists at University Retina have expertise in all types of retinal detachment surgery and choose the most effective method for your condition. Surgery options include:


This procedure uses a freezing technique to prevent tears from getting worse.

Scleral buckling surgery

In this procedure, the doctor places a flexible band, or buckle, around the eye to help the retina return to its normal position.


The vitreous fluid that is causing the detachment is removed and replaced with a substance to keep the retina in place.

Pneumatic retinopexy

A gas bubble is injected into the vitreous space to push the retina back against the back wall of the eye.

For more information on retinal detachment and other retinal diseases, call University Retina with offices in Oak Forest and Bedford Park, Illinois, or make an appointment online.

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