Seeing Black Dots, Shadows, or Flashes?

Do you know the possible symptoms of retinal detachment? This serious eye condition requires urgent specialist retinal surgery — vitrectomy surgery and/or scleral buckle surgery — to increase the chance of successfully saving a patient’s sight.

Approximately one in ten thousand people may suffer from retinal detachment, with trauma, previous eye surgery, short-sightedness, or a family history of retinal detachment increasing the risks.

Retinal detachment is caused when the retinal lining detaches from the back wall of the eye due to a break or a tear. Fluid from the vitreous jelly leaks under the retina through the break or tear, which results in the retina detaching.

Symptoms may be sudden, and vision may be blurred. Some patients may see a red or pink tinge to their vision, due to the bleeding into the vitreous jelly.

Possible symptoms of retinal detachment can include:

  • Seeing black dots, floaters or ‘cobwebs’
  • Shadows or a curtain in your line of vision
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Blurred vision or loss of vision
  • Vision may be tainted with a reddish or pinkish tinge
The retina can be seen to be detached from the underlying layers in bullous retinal detachment.
The retina can be seen to be detached from the underlying layers in bullous retinal detachment.

Requiring urgent treatment with micro-surgery using vitrectomy or scleral buckle surgery, patients with potential retinal detachment symptoms must be assessed and treated as soon as possible. Retinal detachment surgery may be a day or overnight procedure, usually performed under twilight sedation.

Dr Lawrence Lee at City Eye Centre is a specialist in this field and performs vitrectomy surgery at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Eyetech Day Surgery and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Success rate for retinal detachment surgery depends on the severity of the condition and how long it has been present. Some patients may require further surgery if the retina fails to attach, due to scar formation on the retinal surface.

While vitrectomy is the primary method in reattaching the retina, this may be combined with scleral buckle surgery to reinforce the retina in certain types of retinal detachment to help close the breaks and improve the success rate.

Retinal detachment is often preceded by a retinal tear which can present as black dots in vision or flashes. If you suffer from these symptoms, please contact Dr Lawrence Lee’s practice on (07) 3831 6888 urgently. If these breaks or tears are detected, they may be successfully treated with laser surgery.