Kenneth O. Sparks, M.D.
Vitreo-Retinal Surgery & Ophthalmology

Appointments online or call 323-655-8036
Services & Treatments


Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is an eye disorder which is characterized by the separation of the full or partial retina from the main wall of the eye. This causes a loss of vision in the region where separation occurred. Initial detachment may be localized, but without rapid treatment the entire retina may detach, leading to vision loss and blindness. It is a medical emergency.

What are the symptoms associated with retinal detachment?

It usually develops slowly, without pain. Floating black spots and flashes of light appear in the affected eye, and vision becomes increasingly blurred. Without prompt treatment, it causes permanent blindness. A retinal detachment is commonly preceded by a posterior vitreous detachment which gives rise to these symptoms:

Normal Vision

Vision with Retinal Detachment
  • Flashes of light (photopsia), very brief in the extreme peripheral (outside of center) part of vision
  • A sudden dramatic increase in the number of floaters
  • A ring of floaters or hairs just to the temporal side of the central vision
  • A slight feeling of heaviness in the eye
Although most posterior vitreous detachments do not progress to retinal detachments, those that do produce the following symptoms:
  • A dense shadow that starts in the peripheral vision and slowly progresses towards the central vision
  • The impression that a veil or curtain was drawn over the field of vision
  • Straight lines (scale, edge of the wall, road, etc.) that suddenly appear curved (positive Amsler grid test)
  • Central visual loss

How and why does a retinal detachment occur?

Occasionally, posterior vitreous detachment, injury or trauma to the eye or head may cause a small tear in the retina. The tear allows vitreous fluid to enter through it under the retina, and peel it away like a bubble in wallpaper. Separation may also be due to a head trauma with a blunt object or extreme physical exertion, such as lifting a heavyweight, but the underlying cause may be a hole or tear in the retina associated with degenerative changes.

Treatments for Retinal Detachment

There are several treatments for retinal detachment depending on the stage and severity of the condition. Scleral Buckling Surgery and Vitrectomy are still the mainstays of treatment. Pneumatic Retinopexy has increasingly gained favor for certain types of less severe or extensive detachments. After your examination, Dr. Sparks will determine and discuss which treatment is right for you.
Macular Degeneration
Age-related Macular degeneration (AMD) typically affects older adults.
Uveitis refers to the inflammation of the uvea. It also may refer to any type of inflammation to the interior of the eye and not just the uvea.
Diabetic Retinopathy
High blood-sugar levels can damage retinal blood vessels in the back of the eye.
Glaucoma Treatment
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve.