Purpose: To discuss the potential contribution of rod and cone synapses to the loss of visual function in retinal injury and disease. Methods: The published literature and the authors' own work were reviewed. Results: Retinal detachment is used as a case study of rod spherule and cone pedicle plasticity after injury. Both rod and cone photoreceptors terminals are damaged after detachment although the structural changes observed are only partially overlapping. For second-order neurons, only those associated with rod spherules respond consistently to injury by remodeling. Examination of signaling pathways involved in plasticity of conventional synapses and in neural development has been and may continue to be productive in discovering novel therapeutic targets. Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibition is an example of therapy that may reduce synaptic damage by preserving normal synaptic structure of rod and cone cells. Conclusions: We hypothesize that synaptic damage contributes to poor visual restoration after otherwise successful anatomical repair of retinal detachment. A similar situation may exist for patients with degenerative retinal disease. Thus, synaptic structure and function should be routinely studied, as this information may disclose therapeutic strategies to mitigate visual loss.