Retinal detachment is rare in the general population but an eye unit serving a population of 500,000 might expect to be looking after three or four cases a week. It can be seen, therefore, that a doctor in general practice might see a case once in every two or three years, especially if we consider that some retinal detachment patients go directly to eye casualty departments without seeking nonspecialist advice. Although children are sometimes affected, the incidence increases with age and reaches a maximum in the 50-60-

year age group. There is a smaller peak in the mid-20s to 30s owing to traumatic detachments in young males.

Certain groups of people are especially liable to develop detachment of the retina: severely shortsighted patients have been shown to have an incidence as high as 3.5% and about 1% of aphakic patients (see Chapter 11) have detachments.

In just under one-quarter of cases,if there is no intervention, the other eye becomes affected at a later date. This means that the sound eye must be examined with great care in every instance.

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