Many of you will have been asked when visiting your opticians whether you have ever experienced flashing lights, this is one of the key symptoms of retinal detachments (though flashing lights can indicate other eye conditions which are not necessarily as serious).
A retinal detachment is when the sensory layer at the back of the eye peels away from the under lying tissue. This prevents the sensory layer of the retina from receiving nutrients and can lead to the death of the cells in the detached area if treatment does not occur soon enough. This is classified as an optical emergency, it is worth while if you experience flashing lights, a sudden increase in floaters or any strange shadows or veils to go straight to your optician for further examination.
The optician will dilate your pupil when you visit to maximise the area of your retina that is visible when they examine your eyes. If there is any suspicion of a retinal detachment then you will be referred for further investigation at the local hospital.
If a retinal detachment is found then either an operation or laser treatment will be required to try and aid reattachment of the retina to prevent further visual loss.