Retinal Tear or Retinal Detachment
A retinal detachment is a condition that causes the thin retinal layer at the back of the eye to elevate and become displaced from its normal anatomical position. There are many causes for a retinal detachment. These include holes in the retina, diabetes and trauma to the eye.
A retinal tear is a tear in the thin retinal layer at the back of the eye.
Treatment of detached retina:
Almost all patients with retinal detachments must have surgery to place the retina back in its proper position. Otherwise, the retina will lose the ability to function, possibly permanently, and blindness can result. The method for ﬁxing retinal detachment depends on the characteristics of the detachment. In each of the following methods, your ophthalmologist will locate the retinal tears and use laser surgery or cryotherapy to seal the tear.
This treatment involves placing a ﬂexible band (scleral buckle) around the eye to counteract the force pulling the retina out of place. The ophthalmologist often drains the ﬂuid under the detached retina, allowing the retina to settle back into its normal position against the back wall of the eye. This procedure is performed in an operating room.
In this procedure, a gas bubble is injected into the vitreous space inside the eye in combination with laser surgery or cryotherapy. The gas bubble pushes the retinal tear into place against the back wall of the eye. Sometimes this procedure can be done in the ophthalmologist’s ofﬁce. Your ophthalmologist will ask you to constantly maintain a certain head position for several days. The gas bubble will gradually disappear.
This surgery is commonly used to ﬁx a retinal detachment and is performed in an operating room. The vitreous gel, which is pulling on the retina, is removed from the eye and usually replaced with a gas bubble. Sometimes an oil bubble is used (instead of a gas bubble) to keep the retina in place. Your body’s own ﬂuids will gradually replace a gas bubble. An oil bubble will need to be removed from the eye at a later date with another surgical procedure. Sometimes vitrectomy is combined with a scleral buckle. If a gas bubble was placed in your eye, your ophthalmologist may recommend that you keep your head in special positions for a time. Do not ﬂy in an airplane or travel at high altitudes until you are told the gas bubble is gone. A rapid increase in altitude can cause a dangerous rise in eye pressure. With an oil bubble, it is safe to ﬂy on an airplane.
Most retinal detachment surgeries (80 to 90 percent) are successful, although a second operation is sometimes needed. Some retinal detachments cannot be ﬁxed. The development of scar tissue is the usual reason that a retina is not able to be ﬁxed. If the retina cannot be reattached, the eye will continue to lose sight and ultimately become blind.
After successful surgery for retinal detachment, vision may take many months to improve and, in some cases, may never return fully. Unfortunately, some patients do not recover any vision. The more severe the detachment, the less vision may return. For this reason, it is very important to see your ophthalmologist regularly or at the ﬁrst sign of any trouble with your vision.