The retina lies in the back of the eye. It is a multi-layer tissue which is responsible for detecting visual images and transmitting these to the brain. The retina is similar to the film inside a camera. A retinal detachment occurs when it pulls away from the back of the eye.
Typically following a retinal detachment, different types of images appear. These include flashing lights, an apparent covering or curtain over part of the visual field or many floaters. Importantly, these symptoms can also be present without a retinal detachment. An immediate exam is necessary if you experience these symptoms.
Sometimes the retina does not fully detach, but only tears. In these cases, treatment is done with a laser or freezing technique (cryotherapy) that seals the tear. If the retina is fully detached, surgery is performed to place the retina back into position.