June 20, 2024

Care Nex

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Retinal detachment is the one eye emergency ‘everyone should know about’

3 min read

Our vision can become impaired for a number of reasons. Poor eyesight can be genetic, but it can also be caused by factors such as injury and illness.

Getting older is another common cause of deteriorating eyesight. This is typically not something to worry about and can be improved by getting new glasses or contact lenses from an optician.

However, there is one case of vision loss which could be caused by a medical emergency.

Ophthalmologist and eye surgeon Doctor Rany Wu, from the US, took to social media platform TikTok to reveal one eye emergency “everyone should know about”.

She warned of retinal detachment, a terrifying condition she once experienced herself.

In a video she said: “I’m Doctor Rany, I’m an eye surgeon and I had to see a doctor myself for this problem and I want you to know about it.

“Retinal detachments are a separation of the retina, the lining in the back of your eye, from the underlying tissue and can result in loss of vision.”

She explained more about the telltale signs of retinal detachment.

“If you ever suddenly see flashes of lights or floaters, this could be a sign that your retina is torn or detached,” Dr Wu said.

“Flashes of light are like seeing shooting stars or lightning streaks coming from inside your eye.

“Floaters can look like grey or dark spots then move back and forth in your vision.”

Speaking about her own ordeal she said: “I experienced these symptoms a little while back and knew that I needed to be examined by an ophthalmologist right away.

“I was able to call my friend Doctor Daniel Su, who is a retina specialist in LA and he dilated my pupils and performed an exam of the inside of my eye.

“Luckily, I was okay but let this be a reminder if you ever experience sudden flashes of light, flashes of light along with cloudiness or dark spots in your vision, sudden floaters, or a dark curtain coming across your vision, you should be examined by an ophthalmologist right away as you may need to have surgery to preserve your vision.”

The NHS recommends calling 111 if:

  • Floaters (dots and lines) 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
  • Your vision gets suddenly blurred.

If you have experienced retinal detachment or tearing you will likely need surgery.

“You’ll be referred to hospital for surgery if tests show your retina may be detached or has started to come away (retinal tear),” the health body says.

“Surgery will usually stop your vision getting worse.”


A detached retina is typically caused by changes to the jelly inside your eye, which can happen as you get older.

According to the NHS, this is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

It’s not known exactly why PVD can lead to retinal detachment 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.


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