Retina Detachment

Retinal detachment is a medical emergency. The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of the eye, made up of millions of light-sensitive cells. When the lens at the front of the eye focuses light on the retina, those cells send a visual image to the brain via the optic nerve. This crucial retinal tissue rests on top of another layer of cells that relies on blood vessels to supply oxygen and nourishment to the retina. If the retina is pulled away from that underlying layer, the retinal cells can stop working, leading to blindness. A retinal detachment may be caused by a shrinking vitreous – the fluid inside the eyeball – that tugs on the retinal tissue, and it may follow a tear in the retina that lets the vitreous push underneath the retina.

Clear early warning signs of a retinal detachment include an increase in "floaters," which are specks or threads that appear to float in the field of vision; an increased number of light flashes in the eye; or a gray veil or curtain that seems to move across the field of vision. A retinal detachment does not hurt. Immediate diagnosis and repair of a retinal detachment by an eye specialist can save the vision. Retinal detachment is more common beyond age 40.


The specialists at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital use the most advanced technology and are known for working together to treat the full range of both common and complex corneal problems. From cataract and corneal surgeries to highly specialized contact lenses, Callahan features the expertise, experience, and cutting-edge equipment needed to treat the most challenging corneal conditions. Patients come here from around the world and nation because we don’t just treat eye disease – we empower patients to take control of their eye health.

Callahan is the only full-service facility in Alabama specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of the eye and one of only a few worldwide that is entirely devoted to advancements in ophthalmology. That reputation is supported by 16 operating rooms dedicated to eye surgery and a 24/7 eye emergency room that is the region’s only Level I Ocular Trauma Center. More than 11,000 surgeries are performed at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital each year, and we conduct more reconstructive eye procedures than any other facility in the world.

Our facility is home to more than two dozen ophthalmologists, many of whom are named among the top doctors in their fields nationally. Callahan is widely recognized for excellence in patient care, having consistently earned prestigious awards from health care consulting group Press Ganey, and in 2017 Callahan was named as one of the “100 Great Places to Work in Healthcare” by Becker’s Hospital Review.

Callahan also is known for pioneering developments in surgical instruments, devices, and procedures used by ophthalmologists across the globe. As part of the UAB Medicine academic medical center, Callahan is actively involved in ongoing research and clinical trials. Many of our ophthalmologists have received funding from prestigious research organizations and institutions and collaborate in clinical care to bring the latest in scientific discovery to our patients.






Vitrectomy is a surgery that removes the clear, jelly-like substance that fills and gives shape to the eye. Removing the vitreous gel gives the eye doctor better access to the back of the eye. Vitrectomy may be necessary to treat conditions and diseases such as macular hole, excessive eye floaters, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, and trauma. Anterior vitrectomy involves the front parts of the eye; surgery for the back part of the eye is called pars plana vitrectomy. Very small instruments are used inside the eye to cut the vitreous gel and suction it out. The gel, called vitreous humor, also holds the in place the retina, which carries visual information to the optic nerve. The vitrectomy may release tension on the retina, allowing it to move back into proper position where it can be reattached. If a gas bubble is placed inside the eye to keep the retina in place, patients may have to keep their head in a certain position for some days; air travel should be avoided until the bubble dissolves. Most vitrectomies are done under local anesthesia. After the two to three hour surgery, patients are prescribed eye drops to allow the eye surface to heal. They should avoid heavy lifting for a time.


UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of retina detachment. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials