When the sensory retina splits from the retinal pigment epithelium, retinal detachment occurs, creating a subretinal space. This space then fills with fluid, called subretinal fluid. Retinal detachment usually involves only one eye but may involve the other eye later.
Surgical reattachment is often successful. However, the prognosis for good vision depends on the area of the retina that’s been affected.
Any retinal tear or hole allows the liquid vitreous to seep between the retinal layers, separating the retina from its choroidal blood supply. In adults, retinal detachment usually results from degenerative changes of aging, which cause a spontaneous retinal hole.
Predisposing factors include myopia, cataract surgery, and trauma. Perhaps the influence of trauma explains why retinal detachment is twice as common in males.
Retinal detachment may also result from seepage of fluid into the subretinal space (because of inflammation, tumors, or systemic diseases) or from traction that’s placed on the retina by vitreous bands or membranes (from proliferative diabetic retinopathy, posterior uveitis, or a traumatic intraocular foreign body).