What are Retinal Detachments and Tears?
A retinal detachment is a condition where the tissues of the retina separate from the back of the eye. A functioning retina requires the support of the tissues that underlie it. A retina separated from these tissues will not function resulting in a blind spot in the visual field. A retinal detachment is commonly the result of a retinal tear. The tear provides a point of access for fluid from the back of the eye to enter and cause separation of the retina from its supporting tissues.
A retinal detachment typically begins as a retinal tear. The symptoms of a tear are flashing lights or floaters in the vision. A new tear may cause a large number of new floaters or a “snow storm of black dots”. New symptoms of flashes or floaters should prompt an evaluation by an eye care professional. As a detachment progresses from a tear a blind spot in part of the visual field may develop. For example, when covering the good eye the affected eye may see on one side and not the other. Or it may see the upper/lower part of the visual field while not the other. This symptom should also prompt immediate evaluation.
If a tear is found in the retina before it has progressed to a detachment treatment will involve laser. This laser treatment will cause adherence of the tissue around the tear to the back of the eye thus preventing fluid from gaining access to the space under the retina. If the retina has already detached by the time of evaluation a more comprehensive treatment will be necessary. Treatment with injection of a gas bubble in the eye followed by laser treatment at a future date may be possible. Alternatively, it may be necessary to proceed with surgical correction of the detachment. Surgery will involve going to the operating room for a vitrectomy or placement of a “buckle” around the eye. A buckle of the eye involves placing a silicon band on the outer portion of the eye. The function of the buckle is to indent the wall of the eye and cause adherence of the back of the eye and the retina tissue in the vicinity of the retinal tear.
Please contact Central Texas Retina in Austin for more information about these procedures.