Detached & Torn Retina Treatment
The retina is the delicate tissue that lines the back of the eye and allows us to see. When this gets pulled from its normal position, that leads to a retinal detachment.
A retinal detachment is an emergency because the longer the retina remains detached, the greater the risk of vision loss. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes blindness unless treated.
The typical symptoms of a retinal detachment include floaters, flashing lights, and a shadow or a gray curtain in the peripheral vision that can be stationary or progress toward the center of vision.
If any of these occur, see your ophthalmologist right away. This is a very serious condition that can have a debilitating impact on the rest of your life if emergency treatment is not sought immediately.
What is a torn retina? Is a torn retina the same as a retinal detachment?
Torn retina refers to a retinal hole or tear, which is not synonymous with a retinal detachment. However, it can be a precursor to a retinal detachment.
The vitreous is a gel-like substance that is attached to the retina and helps maintain the shape of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous gel starts to shrink and becomes more liquid in consistency. If there is a retinal tear, the liquified vitreous can go through the tear and under the retina, pulling it away from it’s normal position causing a retinal detachment.
So if a retinal tear or hole is diagnosed early and treated by a retain specialist, it prevents progression to a retinal detachment. Laser or a freezing therapy is used in the office setting to spot-weld the edges of the tear. If this is diagnosed and treated early, this will prevent progression to a retinal detachment.
How to fix a retinal detachment
This really depends on the type of retinal detachment. But most of the time, the patient requires surgery that involves going to the operating room. The goal of the treatment is to re-attach the retina to the back wall of the eye and seal any holes or tears that caused the retinal detachment.
When choosing a retina specialist to fix a retinal detachment, there are certain things to look for. Besides credentials and experience, you want to find a retinal specialist who is thorough in their examination. It is also important to be able to contact him/her if you have any new symptoms.
Aging increases the risk for retinal tears
As one gets older, the vitreous inside of the eye tends to shrink slightly and take on a more watery consistency. Sometimes as the vitreous shrinks it exerts enough force on the retina to make it tear.
Retinal tears increase the chance of developing a retinal detachment. Vitreous fluid, passing through the tear, lifts the retina off the back of the eye like wallpaper peeling off a wall. A retinal detachment begins as a small hole in the retina. As fluid collects behind the retina, more of it is detached. If the retina is detached, it must be reattached before sealing the retinal tear.
Treatment procedures for retinal tearing and detachment
Most retinal holes or tears can be treated with laser therapy or cryotherapy to prevent their progression to a full-scale detachment. If a retinal detachment occurs, your surgeon will recommend scleral buckling, pneumatic retinopexy or vitrectomy to treat the detachment.
Why am I getting floaters in my eyes? Floaters in one eye only?
The vitreous is a gel-like substance that is attached to the retina and helps maintain the shape of the eye. As we get older, the protein fibers that make up the vitreous shrink and clump together. The shadows they cast on the retina are floaters.
Over time, the vitreous condenses and shrinks enough to separate from the retina. This can lead to more floaters.
This degenerative process doesn’t necessarily happen in both eyes at the same time or same rate. You may have floaters in just one eye or both depending on the consistency of the vitreous gel.
A few mild floaters every so often is normal, but a new shower of floaters or flashes of light could mean that the vitreous is tugging on the retina and could lead to a retina tear. This requires a complete examination by an eye care provider.