Seeing a curtain in the eye is a serious concern and should prompt a patient to seek care from an optometrist immediately as it is often an indicator of a retinal tear or detachment.
A curtain coming down in the eye may appear as greyness in your field of vision or a curtain/veil falling across your field of vision. Seeing a curtain coming down in the eye is usually an indication of a retinal detachment. The retina is a layer of cells at the back of the eye that is sensitive to light and sends signals to the brain allowing you to see. In the case of a retinal detachment, the retina becomes separated from the back of the eye.
Retinal detachment is more common in people with nearsightedness (myopia), who have had eye surgery, or who have had an eye injury. Alongside seeing a curtain coming down in the eye, symptoms of a retinal detachment could include sudden vision loss, seeing flashing of bright lights, or floaters (dark spots moving across the field of vision) in the eye.
A retinal detachment can occur after the presence of retina tears. A retinal tear becomes more likely with aging, severe nearsightedness, eye surgeries or any recent eye injuries. It can also occur if you have thinning or scarring of the retina, which is usually found along the edges of the retina. Fluid or blood buildup behind the retina, or the drying and shrinking of the jelly-like substance in front of the retina can also increase the risk of a retinal tear. The risk of retinal tear and detachment can also be heightened by other conditions that affect the retina, such as diabetes. If you have a family member who has experienced a detached retina, you may also be at greater risk for a detached retina.
Your optometrist can see and diagnose a detached retina by looking into the eye with a special scope. This is accomplished with the use of special eye drops that widen your pupils, giving the optometrist a view of your retina. The retina will be assessed by ophthalmoscopy, a volk lens, or use of fundus imaging. If you are at risk for a detached retina, you should have your eyes examined for retinal tears regularly to ensure potential tears are caught and treated early.
A retinal detachment is a serious issue and should be treated immediately. Often, immediate treatment can prevent the loss of additional vision. However, if left untreated, retinal detachment can lead to permanent vision damage or loss. Retinal detachment is considered an emergency procedure, and usually require same-day surgery to limit loss of vision.
If you have any symptoms associated with a retinal detachment, including seeing a curtain coming down in your eye, you should visit your optometrist or an emergency room immediately for referral to a retinal surgeon to prevent permanent vision loss.