A Closer Look
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a detached or torn retina, then Long Vision Center would like to help you lean more about this condition; and possible treatment options available to you. A complete brochure of this information is available here in our offices, and has been provided to you in conjunction with the American Academy of Ophthalmology of which Dr. Long is a member in good standing.
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First let’s talk about the retina. The retina is a nerve layer at the back of your eye that senses light and sends images to your brain.
Your eye is like a camera. The lens in the front of the eye focuses light onto the retina, and it may help you to think of your retina as the film that lines the back of a camera.
What Is A Retinal Detachment?
A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position. The retina does not work when it is detached. Vision is blurred, just as a photographic image would be blurry if the film were loose inside the camera. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes blindness unless it is treated.
What Causes Retinal Detachment?
A clear gel call vitreous (vit-ree-us) fills the middle of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may pull away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye.
Usually the vitreous separates from the retina without causing problems, but sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places. Fluid may pass through the retinal tear, lifting the retina off the back of the eye. Much like wallpaper can peel off a wall, and may cause a number of other conditions.
The following conditions increase the chance of having retinal detachment:
- Previous Cataract Surgery
- Sever Injury
- Previous Retinal Detachment In Your Other Eye
- Family History Of Retinal Detachment
- Weak Areas In Your Retina That Can Be Seen By Your Ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.)
What Are The Warning Symptoms Of Retinal Detachment?
The early symptoms may indicate the presence of a retinal detachment:
- Flashing Lights
- New Floaters
- A Shadow In The Periphery (side) Of Your Field Of Vision
- A Gray Curtain Moving Across Your Field Of Vision
These symptoms do not always mean a retinal detachment is present; however, you should schedule to see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
Your ophthalmologist Dr. Clint Long here at the Long Vision center can diagnose retinal detachment during an eye examination and will dilate (enlarge) the pupils of your eyes. Some retinal detachments are found during a routine eye examination.
Only after careful examination can your ophthalmologist tell whether a retinal tear or early retinal detachment is present.
What Treatment Is Needed?
Two options of treatment can be discussed here. Retinal tears and retinal detachments.
Retinal tears in most cases need to be treated with laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing), which seals the retina to the back wall of the eye.
These treatments cause little or no discomfort and may be performed in your ophthalmologist’s office. Treatment usually prevents retinal detachment.
Retinal detachments in almost all patients require surgery to return the retina to it’s proper position. As with all eye care, proper diagnosis and treatment options can be discussed at the time of the examination. Any questions you may have about these types of procedures can also be answered by Dr. Long at any time you care to make an appointment.
Types Of Surgery
There are several ways to fix a retinal detachment. The decision about which type of surgery and anesthesia (local or general) to use depends upon the characteristics of your detachment.
In each of the following methods, your ophthalmologist will locate the retinal tears and use laser surgery or cryotherapy to seal the tear.
This treatment involves placing a flexible bank (cleral buckle) around the eye to counteract the force pulling the retina out of place.
The ophthalmologist often drains the fluid under the detached retina, allowing the retina to settle back into its normal position against the back wall of the eye. This procedure is performed in an operating room.
In this procedure, a gas bubble is injected into the vitreous space inside the eye in combination with laser surgery or cryotherapy. The gas bubble pushes the retinal tear closed against the back wall of the eye. Sometimes this procedure can be done in the ophthalmologist’s office.
Your ophthalmologist will ask you to maintain a certain head position for several days. The gas bubble will gradually disappear.
This surgery is performed in an operating room. The vitreous gel, which is pulling on the retina, is removed from the eye and usually replaced with a gas bubble.
Your body’s own fluids will gradually replace the gas bubble. Sometimes vitrectomy is combined with a scleral buckle.
After surgery you can expect some discomfort. Your ophthalmologist will prescribe any necessary medications for you and advise you when to resume normal activity. You will need to wear an eye patch for a short time.
Flashing lights and floaters may continue for a while after surgery of this type.
If a gas bubble was placed in your eye, your ophthalmologist may recommend that you keep your head in a special position for a time.
One of the most important things to understand is DO NOT FLY IN AN AIRPLANE OR TRAVEL AT HIGH ALTITUDES UNTIL YOU ARE TOLD THE GAS BUBBLE IS GONE! A rapid increase in altitude can cause a dangerous rise in eye pressure.
A change of eyeglasses if often helpful after several months.
What Are The Risks Of Surgery?
Any surgery has risks; however, an untreated retinal detachment usually results in permanent, severe vision loss or blindness.
Some of the surgical risks might include infection, bleeding, high pressure in the eye, and cataracts. Most retinal detachment surgery is successful, although a second operation is sometimes needed.
Some retinal detachments cannot be fixed. If the retina cannot be reattached, the eye will continue to lose sight and ultimately become blind.
Will Your Vision Improve?
After successful surgery, vision may take many months to improve and in some cases may never return fully. Unfortunately, some patients do not recover any vision.
The more severe the detachment, the less vision may return. For this reason, it is very important to see your ophthalmologist at the fist sign of any trouble. Please contact the Long Vision Center to schedule a proper eye exam and talk to Dr. Long about the condition of your Retina. (903) 892-2020
American Academy of Ophthalmology – This organization of 29,000 ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.’s) are dedicated to preserving eye health and sight. For more information please go to http:www.aao.org