Retinal Tear and Detachment Treatment
A retinal tear occurs when your retina peels away from its home located on the posterior (rear) part of the eye wall, resulting in a tear or hole. Retinal tears are a common condition affecting about 10% of people. However, they may progress into a more serious condition known as retinal detachment.
A detached retina develops when the entire retina is moved out of its proper placement. This condition necessitates immediate evaluation, as failing to do so may result in permanent loss of vision in the affected eye. There are three types:
- Rhegmatogenous detachment, the most common type, generally develops from a small retinal tear or break
- Tractional detachment results from scar tissue forming on the retina, pulling it from the back eyewall
- Exudative detachment results from fluid building up behind the retina, with no tears or breaks, pushing the retina away.
Symptoms of Retinal Tear & Detachment
You may have few, if any symptoms, with a retinal tear or detachment. In the event any of the risk factors below develop, you must get medical attention as quickly as possible. Failing to do so may culminate in permanent vision loss in the affected eye.
Common symptoms of retinal tears and detachments include:
- The sudden appearance of new flashes and floaters in your field of vision; this is often the first symptom
- A shadow or blurriness in your peripheral vision.
- A curtain or shade, grey in color, may obstruct portions of your field of vision.
If you are experiencing a sudden increase in floaters and flashes, shadows or blurriness in your peripheral vision, or a curtain appearing over part of your vision, seek medical care right away. Retinal tears and detachments are medical emergencies that need to be addressed as quickly as possible.
Causes of Retinal Tears & Detachments
Depending on the cause of a retinal tear or detachment, there are certain risk factors associated, including:
- Earlier in your life, within your other eye, you suffered a retinal tear or detachment
- You have nearsightedness (myopia) and require eyeglasses to view faraway objects
- Having undergone a surgical procedure for your eye or vision surgery, such as those for glaucoma or cataracts
- A history of family members in which detached retinas had occurred
- Possessing portions of the retina that are weaker or less healthy; often, they’d be identified in an ophthalmologic examination
- Experiencing a past painful and distressing injury within the eye
What Is Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)?
Most often, retinal tears are a result of a common condition called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). With PVD, over time, the clear jelly substance that fills the eye (i.e., the vitreous) shrinks and gets thinner, making it sticky and causing it to adhere to the surface of the retina until it begins to tear. Vitreal fluid can then begin passing through, causing the retina to tear and detach.
Diagnostic Testing for Retinal Tears & Detachment
If you experience any signs or symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment, you should quickly schedule a comprehensive retina exam. During the exam, your eyes will be dilated to keep the pupil open and wide, permitting an unobstructed view of the back of the eye and enabling doctors to look for any indications of retinal holes, tears, or detachment. Undergoing an exam at your earliest opportunity also means any treatments can be implemented sooner.
Treatment for Retinal Tears & Retina Detachment
Often, retinal tears may just require regular monitoring. However, should you require treatment, you’ll likely be a candidate for in-office procedures, typically laser surgery or cryotherapy (i.e., freezing therapy). These procedures are employed for different purposes, including the sealing of tears, securing the retina to its normal position on the eye’s back wall, and helping to prevent full retinal detachments.
For a retinal detachment, surgery is usually required. Types of retinal detachment surgery methods include:
- Pneumatic Retinopexy: This in-office procedure involves a bubble, often made of gas, being placed within your eye, with the intent of moving the dislocated retina into its correct spot.
- Laser Surgery: With this procedure, the torn area is sealed closed so it doesn’t expand.
- Scleral Buckle: Performed in an operating room setting, this involves a retina surgeon placing a small sponge composed of silicone or a segment of semi-hard plastic on the eye’s exterior. The goal of this procedure is to apply gentle pressure to the retina to maintain its proper location along the back wall of the eye.
- Vitrectomy: With this commonly performed procedure, also conducted in an operating room, the vitreous is removed from the back of the eye and replaced with a bubble containing oil, air, or gas. The bubble keeps the retina flat until healing is complete. Should the bubble have oil, its removal will eventually be necessary. You should also know that for air or gas bubbles, air travel must be avoided, because any altitude changes may lead to the expansion of the gas.
Advanced Care for Retinal Tears & Detachment in Illinois and Indiana
Illinois Retina Associates is a leading retina-only ophthalmology practice in the Midwest devoted to diagnosing and treating retinal disorders, including retinal tears and detachment. When you or a loved one visit our retina centers, rest assured that our experienced retina specialists and surgeons will develop a personalized treatment plan to ensure your recovery. Contact one of our 12 convenient locations today to schedule a consultation.