What is retinal detachment?
Retinal detachment is when the retina falls away or detaches from the rest of the eye.
What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?
Symptoms of retinal detachment may include sudden increase in flashes of light, hazy vision, sudden increase in floaters, shadow/curtain covering a portion of vision and/or loss of vision in one eye. If you experience any of these symptoms you should make an appointment to be seen by us immediately.
Who is at risk for retinal detachment?
A retinal detachment can occur at any age, but it is more common in people over age 40.
A retinal detachment is also more likely to occur in people who:
- Have had an eye injury
- Are extremely nearsighted
- Have had a retinal detachment in the other eye
- Have a family history of retinal detachment
- Have had cataract surgery
How is retinal detachment diagnosed?
Your doctor can usually see a retinal tear or detachment while examining the retina using ophthalmoscopy. This test allows the doctor to see inside the back of the eye using a magnifying instrument with a light.
If a retinal tear or detachment involves blood vessels in the retina, you may have bleeding in the middle of the eye. In these cases, your doctor can view the retina using
ultrasound, a test that uses sound waves to form an image of the retina on a computer screen.
What is the treatment for retinal detachment?
If your retina has detached, Dr. Benjamin Chun will refer you to a fellowship trained retina specialist who may use surgical procedures to repair it. Surgery doesn’t always work to reattach the retina. How well you see after surgery depends in part on whether the central part of the retina (macula) was affected by the detachment before surgery and, if it was, for how long. Your vision may take many months to improve after repair of a retinal detachment. Some people don’t recover any lost vision.
The specifics of your retinal detachment will determine which approach your retina specialist takes.
Treatment options for retinal detachment can include:
- Photocoagulation. A special laser is used to make tiny burns that seal the retina and stop vessels from growing and leaking. Hundreds of tiny spots of laser are placed in the retina to reduce the risk of vitreous hemorrhage and retinal detachment.
- Pneumatic retinopexy. Your doctor injects a bubble of air or gas into the vitreous space inside the eye. When the bubble is successfully placed to float against the retinal tear and the area surrounding the tear, it seals the tear. This stops further flow of fluid into the space behind the retina.
- Fluid that had collected under the retina is absorbed by itself, and the retina can then reattach itself to the back wall of your eye. You may need to hold your head in a certain position for up to several days to keep the bubble in place..
- Scleral buckling. Your doctor sutures a piece of silicone rubber or sponge to the white of your eye (sclera) over the affected area. The silicone material indents the wall of the eye and relieves some of the force caused by the vitreous tugging on the retina.
- Vitrectomy. Your doctor removes the vitreous gel along with any tissue that is tugging on the retina. Air, gas, or liquids are then injected into the vitreous space to reattach the retina.