The goal of treatment is to reattach the retina to the back wall of the eye and seal the tears or holes that caused the retinal detachment. Several methods can be used to repair a retinal detachment:
Scleral buckle: In this surgery, a silicone band is placed outside the eye wall of the eye near the retinal tear in order to close the tear. The tear is treated with a freezing probe to induce controlled scarring around the tear and permanently seal it. A small gas bubble may be placed in the eye to help seal the retinal break.
Vitrectomy: In this surgery, three small incisions are made in the white part of the eye and fine instruments are used to remove the vitreous gel that fills the eye and drain the fluid from under the retina. The surgeon may then use a laser or a freezing probe to seal the retinal breaks. The eye is then filled with a gas bubble or silicone oil to hold the retina in place while it heals.
Pneumatic retinopexy: In this office-based procedure, a gas bubble is injected into the eye and the patient maintains a specific head position to place the gas bubble over the retinal tear. The tear itself is sealed either with a freezing treatment at the time of the procedure, or with laser after the retina is reattached.
Laser: When a retinal tear is not associated with a detachment or the retinal detachment is small, laser may be used to wall off the detachment to prevent it from spreading. Based on the characteristics of the detachment, a retina specialist can determine which approach is most appropriate. In general, retinal detachment repairs succeed in about 90% of the time, though sometimes more than one procedure is required to successfully put the retina back into place. The visual results depend on each patient’s preoperative vision and other factors that differ between individual patients. In general, when the center of the retina has not detached before surgery, the post-operative vision tends to be similar to the pre-operative vision. If the central retina is detached prior to surgery, successful re-attachment often leads to vision improvement, though some degree of permanent vision loss may occur.
After treatment for a retinal tear or detachment, patients are typically advised to refrain from strenuous activities for several days. If a gas bubble is used for your surgery, head positioning and altitude restrictions are usually required. Your Colorado Retina surgeon will discuss your individualized instructions in detail prior to surgery.