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Retinal Tear / Retinal Detachment

If you are seeing any warning signs of a torn or detached retina, immediately call The Eye Associates toll free 1-866-865-2020. We have a doctor on call after hours and weekends.

Normally, your retina lies smoothly against the inside back wall of the eyeball and functions similar to the film in the back of a camera. The vitreous, the jelly‐like fluid that fills the inside of the eye, pulls away from the retina as a natural process of aging. In most cases, no damage is caused and the majority of people have no symptoms. However, sometimes in certain patients the vitreous gel is very adherent to the retina and can actually take off a piece of the retina during this process causing a tear or even retinal detachment. Imagine the retina as your “wallpaper” that lines the back wall of your eye. If you get a break (retinal tear) in the wallpaper and the vitreous fluid is able to get through the hole, it has the potential to take the whole wallpaper off the wall (retinal detachment). When this occurs, vision can become blurry or distorted, and may eventually be lost completely.

Check out this video about detached retinas.

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Risk Factors
Your chances of suffering a retinal detachment are increased if you have any of the following risk factors: age, nearsightedness; a history of intraocular surgery, including cataract surgery; glaucoma; severe trauma to the eye; a history of a retinal detachment in your other eye; family history of retinal detachment or weak areas in your retina (lattice degeneration).
Warning Signs
Warning signs of a possible retinal detachment include an increased amount of floaters, flashing lights, and/or a black gray curtain moving across your field of vision.
It is important that you seek treatment as soon as possible upon noticing any symptoms. The sooner the treatment occurs, the better the chances are for visual recovery.

The type of treatment that a doctor chooses and the degree of success is directly related to the amount of time lapsed since the detachment is discovered, the type of detachment, the severity, and the location.

Small holes and tears are usually treated with laser surgery, or a freezing method, called cryopexy. Laser surgery fuses the retina back into place by making tiny burns around the hole to help seal the “wallpaper”. On the other hand, using cryopexy, the retina is reattached by freezing the area around the hole to form scar tissue that also seals the “wallpaper” and prevents progression to a retinal detachment.

An actual retinal detachment requires treatment that is either done in the office or in the operating room. Pneumatic retinopexy is another method used for retinal detachment repairs in certain cases. In this procedure, a small gas bubble is injected inside the eye. The head is positioned in a way that the bubble floats to the detached area, and the retinal tear is pushed back up against the wall of the eye to close it so that no more fluid can enter through the retinal tear. The bubble is harmless and will eventually be absorbed into your body. This procedure is combined with either cryopexy and/or laser retinopexy. Each of these methods is typically an outpatient procedure, performed in your doctor’s office.

The standard treatment to repair a retinal detachment requires treatment in the operating room with a scleral buckle and/or a vitrectomy; both of which can be performed as an outpatient surgery. A scleral buckle is a tiny, flexible silicone band that is wrapped around the outside of the eye to gently push the retina back against the wall of the eye and give it support. A vitrectomy is sometimes performed in addition to placing the scleral buckle. In a vitrectomy procedure, the gel‐like vitreous, which is tugging on the retina, is removed through a tiny incision in the eye. A gas or silicone oil bubble is often injected into the eye to replace the lost fluid and to push the retina against the wall. During the course of healing, the body gradually replaces the vitreous with new fluid.

The improvement in vision after treatment can vary, depending on the severity of the detachment. The earlier the intervention, the better the prognosis for visual recovery. In some cases, vision may never return to the level it was before the detachment. In other cases, complete vision can be returned. However, the larger the detachment is, the less likely it is that you will be able to recover vision. That’s why it is very important to see your eye doctor at the first sign of trouble.

At The Eye Associates, we have four highly skilled Fellowship Trained Retina specialists with extensive experience in all retinal detachment repair procedures.

If you are seeing any warning signs of a torn or detached retina, immediately call The Eye Associates toll free 1-866-865-2020.