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Separation of most layers of the retina of the eye from the choroid, the pigmented middle layer of the eyeball. With age, small tears can develop in the retina, and the vitreous humour inside the eyeball leaks through, separating the retina from the choroid. The disease retrolental fibroplasia or accidents can also cause 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. Draining the fluid behind the retina and applying heat, a laser beam, or extreme cold causes scarring that seals the tears and prevents the retina from detaching again.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on detached retina, visit Britannica.com.