Retinal Tear and Retinal Detachment

Eye Surgeons Answer your Questions
Laguna Hills Eye Doctor

If you or a loved one has suffered from a retinal detachment or retinal tear, you may be wondering what the implications are and how this condition can be treated. Retinal detachment is a serious condition that often needs to be treated in a timely manner.

What is a retinal tear?

Occasionally when the vitreous gel separates from the retina, it will pull on the retina, causing a retinal tear.  Retinal tears can lead to a retinal detachment if fluid passes under the tear and separates the retina from the wall of the eye.  Retinal tears can often be treated in the office with laser or cryotherapy (freezing).

What is retinal detachment?

A healthy retina is attached to the inside wall of the eye. Detachment occurs when the retina is torn away from this position. The detached portion of the retina cannot see light well, resulting in blurred or even lost vision. Retinal detachments can progress rapidly, causing complete blindness if not fixed in time. Luckily there are multiple ways to repair a detached retina to reduce the risk of further vision loss.

What are the symptoms of a retinal tear or retinal detachment?

The classic symptoms for a retinal tear are similar to those of the normal vitreous gel separation and include flashes and floaters.

The symptoms of a retinal detachment may only be flashes and/or floaters but usually entails decreased vision or a visual field darkening in the peripheral vision—like a shadow or shade coming across the eye.

Retinal detachment treatment from an Eye Doctor

Retinal detachment is treatable when caught early. Treatment may or may not involve an in or outpatient surgical procedure. In cases that do require surgery, a patient may require immediate attention or the procedure may be postponed for days or even weeks depending on the condition’s severity.

Two major retinal detachment surgeries include:

  • Vitrectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the vitreous jelly, which has pulled on the retina and caused retinal detachment. Usually, the doctor then replaces the fluid with a gas bubble, which the eye, in time, will absorb and replace with its natural fluids. Doctors may recommend this surgery in instances where:
    1. Diabetic retinopathy led to the retinal detachment
    2. Hemorrhage or other opaque substances have prevented a clear view into the eye
    3. The retinal tears are very far in the back of the eye
    4. Evidence of scarring appears on the retina’s surface
    5. Other conditions affiliated with retinal detachment
    6. Complications of cataract surgery
    7. Inflammatory disease
  • Scleral Buckle: A scleral buckle operation can be performed independently or in addition to a vitrectomy. In this procedure, your doctor places a small silicone implant around part or the entire eye, creating an indent in its wall, counterbalancing the force that caused the retinal tear and retinal detachment. Often, surgeons will drain the fluid under the detached retina, allowing it to settle more quickly into its natural position. Usually, surgeons perform this procedure with general but local anesthesia may be used. Scleral buckle is typically an outpatient surgery.

Contact Our Eye Doctors Today

To learn more about retinal detachment and its treatment options, contact our office at Retina Associates of Orange County. The sooner you speak to a retinal specialist, the sooner you can save and restore your sight.

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