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Patient Information Sheet

Retinal Detachment (Floaters and Flashes)

Around 400 New Zealanders suffer retinal detachment each year, with key symptoms including flashes of light, sudden onset of floaters (little spots like specks of dirt in your vision), distorted sight as though a grey curtain has fallen across your field of vision, and sudden loss of vision. Sufferers need to seek urgent medical attention.

The retina is the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye, and sends messages to your brain. A retinal detachment involves the retina coming away from the back of the eye, and in every instance, without exception, eye surgery is required.

Some people are more susceptible to retinal detachment than others, including those with a family history of detachment, a previous detachment in the other eye, and patients who have previously undergone cataract surgery.

There are several different surgical procedures and techniques which can be employed to seal the retinal hole, with many factors contributing to the choice of which technique to employ. These techniques include pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckling surgery and vitreo-retinal surgery.