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Question:
How long can a person with symptoms of a detached retina wait to see an ophthalmologist safely before permanent damage could occur? What if symptoms occur suddenly after normal office hours or on the weekend? Is it ok if symptoms occur on a Saturday to wait and see ophthalmologist on Monday?

Answer:
Great and very important question! Symptoms of a retinal detachment include seeing a curtain or shade moving over the vision, loss of vision, or new or increased floaters. Symptoms of a vitreous detachment are typically flashes of light which are often in the peripheral or side vision, increasing floaters (floating spots in the vision), or both. A vitreous detachment can lead to a torn or detached retina so these signs should also raise concern.

It is important to call an ophthalmologist immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. If they occur after office hours, most ophthalmologists will have an on-call service that can give you specific advice regarding your individual situation. The on-call ophthalmologist will be able to determine, based on your symptoms, if it is okay to wait until the next day or over the weekend to be seen. 

It is important if you are having these symptoms to take a few minutes and call your ophthalmologist to determine the proper course of action. As medical doctors, our job is to take care of you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Answered by: John Kitchens, MD Dr. John W. Kitchens

Categories: Eye Conditions, General Eye Health

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Answered: Apr 12, 2012

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