About Retinal Detachment
A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is separated from its underlying blood supply. This can occur when a retinal hole or retinal tears allows fluid to pass behind the retina, lifting the retina away from the back surface of the eye like wallpaper peeling off a wall. Retinal detachments are a common cause of visual loss and are often considered surgical emergencies.
At Retina Consultants of Houston, our goal is to promptly and effectively diagnose a retinal detachment and then provide a timely, customized treatment plan to achieve the best possible outcome for each patient.
Causes and Symptoms
Rhegmatogenous retinal detachments are the most common form and develop because of a hole or tears in the retina. Approximately 1 out of every 300 people will develop such a retinal detachment over the course of a lifetime.
Some people have an increased risk of developing a retinal detachment. For example, very nearsighted people have up to a five percent lifetime risk. Other factors that may increase a patient’s risk of developing a retinal detachment include lattice degeneration, eye surgery, trauma or a family history of retinal detachment.
Patients with a retinal tear or detachment often, but not always, experience flashes and floaters as their first symptoms. This occurs as the vitreous gel detaches from the back of the eye. Patients may also describe a “curtain” being drawn across their peripheral vision or decreased peripheral vision. Other patients experience few symptoms at all. Left untreated, most retinal detachments will cause progressive loss of vision and eventually, total blindness.
One of our board-certified retina specialists will conduct a comprehensive dilated eye exam to determine if a hole, tear, or detachment exists within the retina. In some cases, an ultrasound may be ordered to assist with the diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan.
Treatment and Prognosis
In many cases, a retinal detachment is an emergency that requires prompt treatment. There are no drops or medications that can reattach a detached retina. A retinal detachment usually requires surgery.
There are many ways to surgically repair a detached retina depending on the specific clinical situation:
- Scleral Buckle: Performed in an operating room, this surgical procedure involves placing a silicone band around the outside of the eye to provide permanent, external support to retinal tears or holes.
- Vitrectomy: Also performed in an operating room, this procedure involves the use of tiny instruments inside the eye to remove the vitreous gel, reattach the retina, and seal off all retinal tears and holes with laser or cryotherapy. A gas bubble or silicone oil bubble is placed in the eye in order to keep the retina flat until the eye heals. If gas is used, the eye will refill itself with clear fluid as the gas bubble reabsorbs over the course of a few weeks. If silicone oil is used, it may need to be removed surgically from the eye once the retina is stable.
- Pneumatic Retinopexy: In this office procedure, laser or freezing therapy is used to seal off retinal tears or holes. This is accompanied by injection of a gas bubble into the eye in order to reattach the retina.
- Laser Surgery: If a detachment is very small and localized, an in-office laser procedure can sometimes be used to seal off the detached area and prevent it from expanding.
Our board-certified surgeons at Retinal Consultants of Houston are specially trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating retinal tears and retinal detachment.
Treat Retinal Detachment
While a retinal detachment isn’t painful, it can cause serious problems such as a loss in vision. The sooner that a retinal detachment is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis. Retina Consultants of Houston offers thorough eye examinations for patients who experience symptoms associated retinal detachments or tears. Contact one of our Houston, TX retinal centers today for an assessment.