Retinal Detachment – Cause & Cure

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The light sensitive tissue lining the back of the eyes is known as Retina. It is responsible for converting the light rays into impulses that travel through the optic nerve to our brain, where they are interpreted as what we see as images.  Vitreous gel, the clear material that fills the eyeball, is attached to the retina in the back of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may change shape, pulling away from the retina. If the vitreous pulls a piece of the retina with it, it causes a retinal tear. Once a retinal tear occurs, vitreous fluid may seep through and lift the retina off the back wall of the eye, causing the it to detach or pull away. When the tissue around retina gets separated from it, a serious eye condition called Retinal Detachment develops.

How can it be treated?

There are numbers of ways that a retinal detachment can be treated. Retinal tears or holes usually require Laser (thermal) or freezing (cryopexy).  Both of these approaches can repair a tear in the retina if it is diagnosed early enough.

If it is not detected early, then Retinal detachments may require surgery to return the retina to its original position. Pneumatic retinopexy is the procedure can be used to treat retinal detachment if the tear is small and easy to close. A small gas bubble is injected into the eye (specifically into the clear, gel-like substance between the lens and the retina), where it then rises and presses against the retina, closing the tear. A laser or cryopexy can then be used to seal the tear.

Another treatment method goes by the name Scleral buckle which involves surgically sewing a silicone a scleral buckle or flexible band is placed around the equator of the eye to counterbalance any force pulling the retina out of place. This band is not visible and remains permanently attached. Laser or cryo treatment may then be necessary to seal the tear.

Vitrectomy is the surgery type for retinal detachment which is used for large tears. During this, the doctor removes the vitreous (the clear, gel-like substance between eye’s lens and retina) and replaces it with a saline solution.

Depending on the complexity of the retinal detachment, various combinations of vitrectomy, buckle, laser and gas bubble may be used to repair the retina. Vision may take many months to improve and in some cases may never fully return. Unfortunately, some patients, particularly those with chronic retinal detachment, do not recover any vision. For this reason, it is very important to see your ophthalmologist at the first sign of trouble.

 

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