A retinal detachment may cause permanent blindness over a matter of days and should be considered an eye emergency until evaluated by a retina specialist.

Most retinal detachments occur suddenly and can threaten the central vision within hours or days. Anyone experiencing a new onset of flashes, floaters, or loss of peripheral vision should seek an urgent dilated exam with an ophthalmologist.

After a retinal detachment is diagnosed, the timing of surgical repair depends largely on the location of the detachment in relation to the central vision. If the central vision is still attached, a retina specialist may proceed with treatment within 24-48 hours to repair the detachment before it progresses through the central vision. If the central vision is detached at the time of diagnosis, the surgeon may schedule treatment within the next 7-10 days.

Even with timely diagnosis and treatment, retinal detachment may result in permanent visual loss or blindness.