What is retinal detachment?

Updated: Jul 08, 2021
  • Author: Hemang K Pandya, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Bruce M Lo, MD, MBA, CPE, RDMS, FACEP, FAAEM, FACHE  more...
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Answer

Next to central retinal artery occlusion, chemical burns to the eye, and endophthalmitis, a retinal detachment is one of the most time-critical eye emergencies encountered in the ED. Retinal detachment (RD) was first recognized in the early 1700s by de Saint-Yves, but clinical diagnosis remained elusive until Helmholtz invented the ophthalmoscope in 1851.

Tragically, retinal detachments were uniformly blinding until the 1920s when Jules Gonin, MD, pioneered the first repair of retinal detachments in Lausanne, Switzerland. Today, with the advent of scleral buckling and small-gauge pars plana vitrectomy, in addition to laser and cryotherapy techniques, rapid ED diagnosis and treatment of a retinal detachment truly can be a vision-saving opportunity.


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