Your eye health is important. By scheduling regular eye exams, you can stay ahead of possible problems along the way. But what happens when something unexpected occurs? If you have sudden changes in your vision, knowing when to seek help is critical in preventing permanent vision loss.
A common source of unexpected eye problems is retinal detachment. This happens when your retina (a light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye) is pulled away from its normal position at the back of your eye. If the retinal detachment isn’t treated right away, more of the retina can detach — which increases the risk of permanent vision loss or blindness.
Immediate symptoms can include:
- A lot of new floaters (small dark spots or squiggly lines that float across your vision)
- Flashes of light in one eye or both eyes
- A dark shadow or “curtain” on the sides or in the middle of your field of vision
Who is at risk for retinal detachment?
Anyone can have a retinal detachment, but you are at higher risk if:
- You or a family member has had a retinal detachment before
- You’ve had a serious eye injury
- You’ve had eye surgery
- You have diabetic retinopathy
- You have extreme nearsightedness (myopia)
- You have a posterior vitreous detachment
- You have certain other eye diseases, including retinoschisis or lattice degeneration
How is retinal detachment treated?
There are 3 types of surgery that doctors can do to fix a detached retina:
- Pneumatic retinopexy
- Scleral buckle
The type of surgery you need will depend on several things, including how much of your retina is detached and where in your eye it detached. Your doctor will talk to you about what type they recommend, and about the risks and benefits of surgery. Some people may need more than one type of surgery at once.
What is pneumatic retinopexy surgery?
In pneumatic retinopexy, your doctor will inject a small air bubble into your eye. The bubble will push your retina back into place so your doctor can use a laser or freeze treatment to repair any holes or tears.
During surgery, your doctor will:
- Put numbing medicine in your eye
- Insert a tiny needle into your eye and remove a small amount of fluid
- Inject a small amount of air into your eye
- Use laser or freeze treatment to repair any holes or tears in your retina
What is scleral buckle surgery?
During scleral buckle surgery, your doctor will put a tiny, flexible band around the white part of your eye. This part of the eye is called the sclera.
The band pushes gently on the sides of your eye and moves them inward toward your retina, which helps your retina reattach. The band will stay on your eye permanently after the surgery. Your doctor may also use a laser or freeze treatment to repair any tears in your retina.
Typically you’ll be under anesthesia so you won’t feel anything or remember the surgery. Most people can go home the same day, but you’ll need someone to drive you home.
What is a vitrectomy surgery?
Vitrectomy is similar to pneumatic retinopexy, but it’s a longer surgery and usually happens in a hospital instead of your doctor’s office.
Think you may have a retinal detachment? Contact our office immediately and request an appointment at one of our locations. Call 516-785-3900 (Wantagh office) or 516-541-4141 (Massapequa office) to schedule an appointment.
Source: National Eye Institute