Retinal Detachment Surgery


Retinal detachment occurs when the part of the eye(the retina), responsible for sending visual messages to the brain, becomes separated from the underlying supportive tissue. This detachment can lead to a severe loss of vision and, if not addressed promptly, may result in permanent blindness. Understanding the causes and symptoms is crucial for early detection and treatment.

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment

Recognizing the symptoms of retinal detachment is crucial for seeking prompt medical attention. Early intervention significantly improves the chances of successful treatment. Common symptoms include:


1. Floaters and Flashes

The sudden appearance of floaters—specks or particles floating in your field of vision—and flashes of light may indicate retinal detachment. These occur as a result of the vitreous tugging on the retina.


2. Shadow or Curtain Effect

A noticeable shadow or curtain-like obstruction in your peripheral vision is a red flag for retinal detachment. This occurs when the detached part of the retina creates a visual block.


3. Gradual Blurring of Vision

If your vision is gradually becoming blurry or distorted, it could be a sign of retinal detachment. Prompt attention is crucial to prevent further deterioration.


4. Sudden Loss of Vision

A sudden and significant loss of vision, especially if accompanied by flashes and floaters, requires immediate medical evaluation. This could be indicative of advanced retinal detachment.

Causes of Retinal Detachment

Several factors can contribute to the detachment of the retina:


1. Retinal Tears

Small tears or breaks in the retina can allow fluid to seep behind it, leading to detachment. These tears can be caused by trauma, injury, or even the ageing process.


2. Age-Related Changes

As we age, changes in the vitreous—the gel-like substance filling the eye—can increase the risk of retinal detachment. The vitreous may shrink, pulling away from the retina and causing it to tear.


3. Family History

A family history of retinal detachment may elevate an individual's risk. Genetic factors can contribute to the predisposition of certain eye conditions that make detachment more likely.


4. Nearsightedness

People with high degrees of nearsightedness (myopia) are more susceptible to retinal detachment. The elongated shape of their eyeballs can increase tension on the retina, making it more prone to tearing.


5. Previous Eye Surgery or Injury

Individuals who have undergone eye surgery or experienced eye trauma may be at a higher risk of retinal detachment. The structural changes caused by these events can compromise the integrity of the retina.

Can a Retinal Detachment be Cured?


The success of treating retinal detachment depends on several factors, including the extent of detachment, the patient's overall eye health, and how quickly medical attention is sought. In many cases, timely intervention can prevent permanent vision loss.


1. Laser Surgery (Photocoagulation)

Small tears or holes in the retina can be treated with laser surgery, which helps to seal the damaged area and prevent further detachment.


2. Cryopexy

Similar to laser surgery, cryopexy involves using freezing temperatures to seal retinal tears and prevent detachment.


3. Scleral Buckling

This surgical procedure involves placing a silicone band around the eye, relieving pressure on the retina and allowing it to reattach.


4. Vitrectomy

In cases of more severe detachment, a vitrectomy may be performed. This involves removing the vitreous gel and replacing it with a gas or silicone oil to push the retina back into place.


5. Pneumatic Retinopexy

This procedure involves injecting a gas bubble into the vitreous space to push the retina back into place. Laser or freezing treatment is then applied to seal the tear.

Why is a retinal detachment repair performed?

Your retina is the section of your eye that sends images through your optic nerve to the brain. Your retina has millions of cells that detect light like a camera. It is part of the back of your eyeball and is vital to your vision.

Retinal detachment happens when the retina pulls out from the back of the eye and the blood supply. Without a blood supply, the retinal cells will begin to die. This can lead to enduring damage to your vision. If the macula (central vision area) starts to loosen, your vision may be permanently damaged. If the macula totally detaches, you may lose your vision completely. Reattaching the retina promptly is crucial to prevent such a severe complication.

Retinal detachment can happen due to the vitreous fluid of the eye (a gel-like liquid) retracting from the back of the eye, pulling the retina and tearing it. Those tears can then pull away from the back of the eye and detach the retina. Some causes and factors of retinal detachment include glaucoma, stern trauma, nearsightedness, previous cataract surgery, previous retinal detachment in the other eye, or family history of retinal detachment.

How is a retinal detachment repair performed?

There are numerous types of surgery to repair a detached retina. A common tear in the retina can be repaired with freezing, called cryotherapy, or a laser procedure. Different types of retinal detachment need different sorts of surgery and different levels of anaesthesia. The type of procedure your doctor carries out will depend on the seriousness of retinal detachment.

One type of retinal detachment repair is pneumatic retinopexy. In this operation, a gas bubble is injected into the eye. The bubble presses aligned with the detached retina and pushes it back into place. A laser or cryotherapy is then used to reattach the retina tightly into place. The gas bubble will dissolve in a couple of days. A pneumatic retinopexy can be carried out in an ophthalmologist’s office.

In more serious tears, a procedure called a scleral buckle may be conducted. For a scleral buckle, a doctor will position a flexible band around the eye to counteract the force that is pulling the retina out of position. The fluid behind the detached retina will be drained, and the retina should go back to its normal place in the back of the eye. This procedure is carried out in a hospital, operating room, or surgery clinic. Local or general anaesthesia will be used, and you may be required to stay overnight in the hospital.

A vitrectomy is a surgery done for severe retinal detachments. It may be needed for partially removing the vitreous fluid within the eye. Local anesthesia is used and the procedure is normally performed in a surgical clinic.

How do I prepare for retinal detachment repair?

Retinal detachment repair is typically done on an emergency basis. Be sure to tell your doctor of any medications you might be taking that could interfere with the surgery or the anaesthesia.

What are the risks of retinal detachment repair?

Surgery always comes with some risk. Having general anaesthesia can interfere with your breathing. Some persons have serious reactions to the medication.

You can permanently lose your vision if the retina is damaged before reattachment.

What can be expected in the long term?

Normally the retina can be attached in a single operation, but sometimes multiple procedures are needed. Over 90 percent of detachments can be repaired. In less than 10 percent of detachments that cannot be repaired, the patient will have to deal with either poor vision or no vision in that eye.

The success of a retinal repair depends on the severity of the tears and detachment and how much scar tissue was created in the retina. If the macula or central part of the retina is not affected, vision will be good. If the macula is detached for a long period, some vision will come back, but it will usually be less than 20/200, which is legally blind. It may take many months of healing after surgery to find out how much vision will return.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q: Are there any lifestyle changes to prevent retinal detachment?

A: While some factors like age and family history are beyond control, protecting your eyes from injury, managing underlying health conditions, and attending regular eye exams can contribute to prevention.


Q: Can retinal detachment be painful?

A: Retinal detachment itself is not typically painful. However, the conditions leading to detachment, such as retinal tears, may cause discomfort. If you experience sudden changes in vision or eye pain, seek immediate medical attention.


Q: Is retinal detachment common?

A: While not extremely common, retinal detachment is a serious eye emergency that requires prompt attention. It can affect people of all ages, but the risk increases with age.


Q: Can retinal detachment recur?

A: Yes, it is possible for retinal detachment to recur, especially in individuals with a history of detachment or predisposing factors. Regular follow-up with an eye care professional is crucial for monitoring and addressing any new developments.



DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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