Retinal detachment is caused when the retina separates from the choroid — a thin layer of blood vessels that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the retina. Retinal detachment is an emergency and time is critical. The detached retina must be promptly surgically reattached or the condition can result in permanent vision loss.
There are several warning signs that appear before retinal detachment occurs. Early diagnosis is crucial to detect this condition:
Sudden appearance of floaters
Sudden flashes of light in one or both eyes
The appearance of a shadow over the visual field
Sudden blurry vision
Surgery is the only effective therapy for retinal detachment. The retinal specialists at Saint Thomas may use one of three surgical procedures to repair a detached retina: pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckling and vitrectomy.
Pneumatic retinopexy is generally used for a relatively uncomplicated retinal detachment. It is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. For the procedure, the ophthalmologist will soften the eye by withdrawing a small amount of fluid from the space between the cornea and the iris. The surgeon will then inject a bubble of gas into the cavity. As the bubble expands over several days, the retinal tear is sealed as the bubble pushes the detached retina against the surrounding tissue. The retina is then able to reattach itself to the wall of the eye.
Scleral buckling is the most common surgical procedure to repair a detached retina. It is performed under local or general anesthesia and may be performed on an outpatient basis. For the procedure, the ophthalmologist attaches a tiny silicone band (buckle) to the white part of the eye (sclera). The buckle closes the tear and helps to reduce traction on the retina to prevent further separation.
Vitrectomy surgery involves making a tiny incision in the sclera to remove clouded vitreous or scar tissue. For this procedure, the ophthalmologist uses a light probe to illuminate the inside of the eye, a cutter to remove scar tissue, and an infusion tube to replace the volume of removed tissue with a salt solution to maintain normal eye pressure and shape.
To learn more about these procedures or to be screened for retinal conditions, call us at Saint Thomas today to schedule an appointment with one of our renowned retinal specialists.
In addition to treating Long Island retinal surgery patients, the physicians of Saint Thomas Eye Hospital also specialize in treating glaucoma and cataract patients with innovative technologies including Intraocular lenses (IOLs). To learn more about how Saint Thomas Eye Hospital cataract and glaucoma patients have improved their vision and gained freedom from a variety of vision conditions, please call to schedule appointment at our main hospital or at our Spintex Road branch.