Pathogenesis of rhegmatogenous retinal detachment: predisposing anatomy and cell biology

Retina. Nov-Dec 2010;30(10):1561-72. doi: 10.1097/IAE.0b013e3181f669e6.


Background: The pathogenesis of rhegmatogenous retinal detachment is complex, and our knowledge of the exact mechanism of vitreoretinal attachment and detachment remains incomplete.

Methods: We performed a Medline, Ovid, and EMBASE search using search words rhegmatogenous, retinal detachment, vitreous, and retinal adhesion. All appropriate articles were reviewed, and the evidence was compiled.

Results: Cortical vitreous contains fibrillar collagens type II, V/XI, and IX. The inner limiting membrane of the retina contains collagens type I, IV, VI, and XVIII as well as numerous other glycoproteins and potential adhesion molecules. The distribution and age-related changes in the structure of these molecules play an important role in the formation of a retinal break, which may compromise and disrupt the normal mechanisms of neurosensory retinal adhesion.

Conclusion: Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment development is intimately related to changes in the fibrillar structure of the aging vitreous culminating in posterior vitreous detachment with regions of persistent and tangential vitreoretinal traction predisposing to retinal tear formation. A complex interplay of factors such as weakening of vitreoretinal adhesion, posterior migration of the vitreous base, and molecular changes at the vitreoretinal interface are important in predisposing to focal areas of vitreoretinal traction precipitating rhegmatogenous retinal detachment. Once formed, the passage of liquefied vitreous through a retinal break may overwhelm normal neurosensory-retinal pigment epithelium adhesion perpetuating and extending detachment and causing visual loss. To understand the molecular events underlying rhegmatogenous retinal detachment so that new therapies can be developed, it is important to appreciate the structural organization of the vitreous, the biology underlying vitreous liquefaction and posterior vitreous detachment, and the mechanisms of vitreoretinal attachment and detachment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Cell Biology
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology
  • Fibrillar Collagens / metabolism
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Retinal Detachment / etiology*
  • Retinal Detachment / metabolism
  • Vitreous Body / metabolism
  • Vitreous Body / pathology*


  • Fibrillar Collagens