Emergency Treatment for Retinal Tears and Detachment

Smiling, happy older man, isolated headshotRetinal detachment is a serious condition that occurs when your retina, located at the back of your eye, separates from the underlying blood vessels. Without a supply of oxygen, your retina may suffer permanent damage. In some cases, the condition may lead to total blindness in that eye. Fortunately, there are a number of early warning signs that develop in response to a torn retina; these symptoms develop before full retinal detachment occurs. At EyeCare 20/20 in Mandeville, Harahan, Slidell, and Franklinton, our ophthalmologists are extremely experienced in the treatment of torn and detached retinas. With early care, they can often prevent damage to the central portion of your retina, preserving your vision. If you have noticed the symptoms of a retinal tear, contact EyeCare 20/20 immediately.

What Is Retinal Detachment?

Your retina is a thin wall of tissues that lines the back of your eye. When light enters your eye, it focuses on your retina, which converts the light into electrical signals. Then, the optic nerve transmits these impulses to the brain.

A retinal tear occurs when the thin lining of tissues pulls away from the underlying tissues and blood vessels. When this happens, fluid can leak behind the retina, and as it builds up, it will eventually cause the entire retina to come loose.

Symptoms

While there are several highly effective treatments for torn retinas, it is much more difficult to repair a detached retina. Even after it has been reattached, you may suffer permanent vision loss. For this reason, it is important to seek immediate treatment if you notice the symptoms of a retinal tear. These indications include:

  • Flashes

  • Floaters

  • The appearance of a shadow or curtain across your field of vision

Although flashes and floaters are usually harmless, if you notice these symptoms, it is still vital to make an appointment with your doctor.

Causes of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is often the result of aging. As you get older, the vitreous (the gel-like substance inside your eye) may begin to shrink, and as it does, it will pull on your retina. As the retina gradually separates from the back of your eye, fluid will accumulate underneath. If left untreated, you may eventually suffer a full retinal detachment. Although age is the most common cause of this condition, other causes include eye diseases, extreme nearsightedness, previous cataract surgery, diabetes, and injuries.

Treatment Options

At EyeCare 20/20, we offer a full range of advanced treatments for both retinal tears and retinal detachment. Cryopexy is the most common treatment for retinal tears. During this procedure, your doctor will freeze the outer surface of your eye, just over the tear. Your eye will then develop scar tissue, which will hold the retina in place.

If you have suffered full retinal detachment, there are three treatments we may use:

  • Retinopexy/ Pneumopexy: The doctor will inject a gas bubble inside the vitreous of your eye. This air pocket will push the gel-like substance against the back of your eye, holding the retina in place. After a few weeks, the bubble will disappear, but your retina should remain in the proper position.

  • Scleral buckling: After sealing the hole in your retina, the doctor will attach a scleral buckle to the outside of your eye. This device will compress your eye, pushing your retina against the outside wall. The buckle is typically not visible because the doctor will place it toward the back of your eye.

  • Vitrectomy: In severe cases, the doctor may remove the fluid inside your eye, replacing it with gas. As your eye heals, it will produce new vitreous. Vitrectomy and scleral buckling are often performed at the same time.

It is always better to treat retinal tears before they lead to full detachment. However, if your retina has pulled away completely, the success of your surgery will largely depend on how soon you receive treatment.

Contact Us Today

If you have noticed vision abnormalities that could indicate a retinal tear, it is urgent that you contact your ophthalmologist immediately.

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