Symptoms of retinal detachment 

Initial symptoms of retinal detachment include the sudden appearance of floaters – black dots, specks or streaks that float across your field of vision.

Some people experience a kind of cobweb effect of lots of little floaters, while others report a single large black floater that looks like a housefly.

Usually only one eye is affected by floaters.

Another common symptom is seeing flashes of light in the affected eye. These last no more than a second.

You may also experience some blurring or distortion of your vision.

Without treatment, you will go on to experience increasing loss of vision in the affected eye. Most people describe this as a shadow or "black curtain" spreading across their vision.

When to seek medical advice

If you experience these warning signs, contact your GP immediately for advice. If this is not possible, telephone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or your local out-of-hours service for advice.


Will it affect both eyes?

Retinal detachment often only occurs in one eye. If your eye is affected, there is a one in 10 chance that retinal detachment will happen in your other eye.

Page last reviewed: 09/01/2013

Next review due: 09/01/2015