What is a Retinal Detachment?
A retinal detachment is a serious and sight-threatening event, occurring when the retina becomes separated from its underlying supportive tissue. The retina cannot function when these layers are detached, and unless it is reattached soon, permanent vision loss may result.
The most common type of retinal detachment occurs when there is a break in the sensory layer of the retina, and fluid seeps underneath, causing the layers of the retina to separate. Those who are very nearsighted, have undergone eye surgery, or have experienced a serious eye injury are at greater risk for this type of detachment. Nearsighted people are more susceptible because their eyes are longer than average from front to back, causing the retina to be thinner and more fragile. The second most common type occurs when strands of vitreous or scar tissue create traction on the retina, pulling it loose. Patients with diabetes are more likely to experience this type.
The Treatment of Retinal Detachment
There are a few ways to treat retinal detachment. It depends on the type, severity and location of the detachment.
The two most common treatments for retinal detachment are pneumatic retinopexy and scleral buckling. Pneumatic retinopexy is one type of procedure to reattach the retina using a gas bubble. Some types of retinal detachments, because of their location or size, are best treated with a procedure called a scleral buckle. With this technique, a tiny sponge or band made of silicone is attached to the outside of the eye, pressing inward and holding the retina in position. The scleral buckle is not visible and remains permanently attached to the eye. This technique of reattaching the retina may elongate the eye, causing nearsightedness.
Occasionally the retinal tears and holes can be found in the retina, especially in highly nearsighted people. These tears or holes don't necessarily demand treatment right away. Your eye doctor will monitor these retinal defects at each visit. Retinal holes can be repaired with laser photocoagulation.