People who have suffered a retinal tear find themselves at an increased risk of developing a retinal detachment. A detached retina happens when the retina pulls away from its supportive tissue and it’s considered a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment to avoid permanent vision loss. The following are the three non-invasive procedures that can help to repair the tear and seal the retina to the back of the eye.
This is the most common procedure to repair a detached retina. During the photocoagulation procedure, a surgeon will numb the patient’s eye with anesthetic drops. Then, with the use of a special laser, the eye surgeon will emit a beam of light that travels through the eye and burns the surrounding area of the detachment or retinal tear to create a scar.
The scar tissue will help enable the tear to seal, or helps a detached part of the retina to reattach to the underlying tissue. When treating retinal tears, the procedure will prevent any fluid from accessing the underneath of the retina, where it can cause detachment.
Once the procedure is complete, the surgeon may administer a steroid to the area to prevent any potential inflammation.
Cryotherapy creates a scar in the affected area using cold or freezing therapy. Once an anesthetic has been injected around the eye, a freezing probe is placed over the tear or the area of retinal detachment by the surgeon.
When an area is frozen, scar tissue forms. This scar tissue will help the underlying tissues reattach to the retina, or will seal the retinal tear. As with laser photocoagulation, after the procedure is complete, the surgeon may administer a steroid to the area to prevent any potential inflammation.
This procedure involves injecting a bubble of gas or air into the vitreous cavity of the eye. When the bubble is in the correct position, it pushes the part of the retina with the tear back against the wall of the eye to stop fluid from flowing behind the retina. The bubble will be reabsorbed over time but patients may need to keep their head in a specific position for days to keep the bubble in the correct position.
Retinal Detachment Surgery
In some cases, photocoagulation and/or cryotherapy aren’t enough to repair a detached retina. Surgical correction can be used to treat the detachment on an outpatient basis. The most common surgical treatment is scleral buckle which attaches a tiny silicone band to the outside of the sclera after photocoagulation to help the retina settle against the back of the eye.