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Retinal Detachment Surgery

The retina is a layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eye; it captures light and uses this to send signals to the brain, resulting in a person’s vision. Retinal detachment occurs when the retina is separated from the underlying tissue, resulting in loss of retinal function. Vision is lost or a shadow develops where the retina has detached, which can lead to complete blindness in the affected eye, the cause typically being a retinal tear or hole.

Factors influencing your chance of a detached retina include:

  • Increasing age
  • Being short-sighted
  • Abnormalities of the retina
  • Personal/family history of retinal detachment
  • Previous cataract surgery
  • Trauma

Diagnosing Retinal Tears or Retinal Detachment

Diagnosing problems with the retina involves an examination by your ophthalmologist. Your ophthalmologist will test your vision and how your pupils respond to light. Drops will be administered into your eye in order to dilate the pupil, which then allows the retina to be examined. In some cases an ultrasound is required.

Retinal Detachment Surgery

A tear in the retina can often be treated by your ophthalmologist avoiding surgery, however a retinal detachment is a much more serious condition, requiring surgery in an operating theatre. Sometimes urgent surgery may even be necessary. The different options for retinal detachment surgery include:

  • Scleral buckle surgery – your surgeon will sew a silicone band to the outside of the eye, which then presses the choroid (the back of your eye) into contact with the retina.
  • Vitrectomy – firstly your surgeon will remove some of the fluid and any blood from the inside of the eye. Then an air or gas bubble is infused into the eye in order to push the retina back into place against the choroid.

Scleral buckle surgery may be used in combination with vitrectomy and your ophthalmologist may also recommend additional procedures. Like any other eye surgery, your ophthalmologist requires your medical history before proceeding with treatment to ensure that any health conditions you may have will not affect the surgery. If you do not have the surgery symptoms may continue to worsen over time.