Retinal Detachment

The retina in the back of your eye is a vital part of clear vision. If it gets damaged, you can lose your eyesight completely.

Retinal detachment is one condition that can steal your vision by tearing and lifting your retina off the wall of your eye. Be sure to avoid a retinal detachment and maintain a healthy retina by regularly visiting Retina Consultants of Austin.

What is a Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachments occur when the inner layer of the eye, known as the retina, separates from the layers connected to the back side of the eye. The most common cause of a retinal detachment is a posterior vitreous detachment leading to a retinal tear or hole. Often times this vitreous detachment will pull on the retina causing a small hole or tear through which fluid passes. The fluid works its way back behind the retina and causes a retinal detachment. The first signs and symptoms of a retinal detachment are:

  • Bright flashes of light, especially in peripheral vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Floaters in the eye
  • Shadow or blindness in a part of the visual field of one eye
diagram of retina detachment

How is Retinal Detachment Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a retinal detachment is an involved process. The first step is a thorough dilated eye exam by your retinal specialist.

Then, your eye doctor may do additional testing a series of tests to determine if a retinal detachment is causing your visual symptoms. These tests may include:

  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Fundus photography of the retina
  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Ultrasound of the eye

A detached retina is a serious medical incident that usually requires prompt treatment, and many treatments for retinal detachments are surgical.

What are the Treatment Options for Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachments often require surgery. There are several types of surgery that treat a detached retina. These include pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckle, and a vitrectomy.

Pneumatic Retinopexy

During a pneumatic retinopexy, your eye doctor will inject a gas bubble into your eye. When the bubble is in your eye, you hold your head in a specific position, so the bubble floats to where the retinal detachment is.

This bubble will push the retina back into place, and then your surgeon will freeze the retina with a probe or use a laser to seal it. Within one to three weeks, the retina should be reattached and fully healed.

One thing to know about recovery from a pneumatic retinopexy is that you have to hold your head in the position your eye doctor tells you to. This is to ensure that the retina stays flat.

If you move your head from this position, the bubble will move and press against a different part of your eye. If this happens, the retina could become detached again.

A pneumatic retinopexy is usually performed as an in-office procedure.

Scleral Buckle

During a scleral buckle procedure, a silicone band is placed around your eye.

The pressure applied to the sclera by the buckle relieves the pulling on your retina that is causing your retinal detachment. This will allow the retina to settle back against the wall of your eye.

Your surgeon will then use cold therapy or a laser to the retina so that a seal forms between them. That seal should prevent fluid from getting between the retina and wall of the eye to avoid further detachments.

Vitrectomy

A vitrectomy removes the vitreous gel in your eye, which pulls on the retina, causing tears. When the vitreous is gone, your retina can relax back to the wall of the eye. After this, any fluid underneath the retina is removed.

The vitreous gets replaced with a gas bubble or oil to push your retina into place and hold it there, allowing it to heal. Some retinal detachment patients have a vitrectomy and a scleral buckle performed at the same time.

After the surgery, often you will need to maintain a head position to help seal the tear. Remaining in this position will help the retina heal quicker and not detach again after surgery.

What is the Recovery Like From Retinal Detachment Treatment?

Your recovery will depend on which procedure you have done. After pneumatic retinopexy, you will have to keep your head in a specific position for several days.

While you have gas in your eye you should not change altitude. Things like scuba diving, flying, or travel to high altitudes are off-limits while there is gas in your eye..

These activities are not safe because any change in altitude makes the gas expand, which can be dangerous for your eye. You have to wait until the gas bubble in your eye is completely gone.

Regardless of what treatment you get, you may experience some discomfort after your procedure. This should subside in a few days to a few weeks.

Your eye doctor will give you guidance on when you can get back to your usual activities.

What are the Risks of Retinal Detachment Surgery?

The risks of surgery for retinal detachment include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Cataracts
  • Increased pressure inside your eye.
  • There is also a risk of future detachments occurring requiring additional surgery.

But, remember, if your detached retina goes untreated, it will continue to get worse and could cause blindness. In most cases, any risks of treatment far outweigh the dangers of the condition itself.

Will I Need Multiple Retinal Detachment Procedures?

Retinal detachment surgery is generally successful. Some patients, however, in rare cases, do need additional procedures.

How Much Will My Vision Improve?

Every patient has a different experience with retinal detachment surgery. Some people see a significant improvement in vision, but others may only have moderate improvement if their detachment has been present for a long time and involves the central retina.

It might be several months before you notice your vision getting better. Your results will depend on how severe your condition was and how quickly you received treatment.

If you suspect you have a detached retina, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. If it goes undiagnosed and untreated, a retinal detachment could cause complete vision loss.

But, if you receive the proper treatment on time, you can regain your normal eyesight. Contact your eye doctor if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.

Do you have concerns about treating a retinal detachment? Request an appointment at Retina Consultants of Austin in Austin, TX, now!