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February 12, 1982

Retinal Detachment

JAMA. 1982;247(6):873-875. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320310101051

RETINAL detachment occurs when fluid accumulates between the retina and the pigment epithelium (Fig 1). In primary retinal detachment, fluid passes through a tear or break in the retina, elevating the sensory retina away from the pigment epithelium.

In secondary detachment, no break is present and the sensory retina separates from the pigment epithelium by traction (such as in diabetes) or by exudation of fluid into the subretinal space. Secondary retinal detachment may be associated with choroidal tumors, Harada's disease, and a variety of other systemic disorders. Since the retinal detachment has developed as a result of a systemic disease, treatment of the underlying systemic process may result in improvement in the detachment and retinal surgery is not indicated.

Historically, retinal detachment has been recognized for several centuries, but it was not until this century that surgical advances improved the prognosis from an incurable condition to one with highly successful