Retinal Surgery Q & A
What is the retina?
The retina is a thin layer of neurosensory tissue located at the back of your eye. When light hits the retina, it sends nerve signals via the optic nerve to the brain, helping to form the images you see.
What is a retinal tear?
Your eye is filled with a jelly-like fluid called vitreous. As we age, the vitreous begins to deteriorate, becoming more like a liquid. Over time, movement of this liquid can tug on the jelly-like vitreous, causing it to pull away from the retina in a common condition called posterior vitreous detachment. But in other cases, the force it exerts can cause the retina to tear, sometimes tearing small blood vessels as well. Tears can usually be sealed using lasers to hopefully prevent the next step: detachment.
What is a retinal detachment?
Retinal detachments occur when retinal tears allow fluid to buildup, eventually causing the retina to completely detach from the eye wall. The result of a retinal detachment is loss of vision in that eye.
How can surgery help repair a detached retina?
When the retina pulls away from the eye wall, it also pulls away from the blood vessels that provide it with nutrients. Left untreated, the retina will deteriorate and vision loss will be permanent. If caught early enough, retinal surgery can help prevent complete vision loss and potentially restore some lost vision. For best results, surgery must take place as soon as possible after detachment occurs to prevent prolonged damage from lack of blood. There are different types of retinal surgery, including minimally invasive scleral buckling and pneumatic retinoplexy procedures, both of which create pressure to push the retina back against the eye wall, and vitreous surgery, which replaces your natural vitreous with a biocompatible fluid. The type your doctor uses typically depends on the type of tear and the overall health of your eye.