What is a retinal detachment?
A retinal detachment or separation of the retina from the eye wall is a very serious condition. It results from fluid seepage under the retina through a hole or a tear in the retina, which may happen with old age, eye injury, and in some other retinal diseases. Initially, a patient may see floaters or flashes and experience mild visual obscuration when the area of the retina detached is minimal. As the retina detaches further, patients experience severe decrease in vision. Left untreated, it almost always results in severe vision loss or blindness in the affected eye. However, timely retinal detachment surgery with proper techniques restores sight and maintains good vision.
What are the treatments available?
The least invasive procedure to correct retinal detachment is pneumatic retinopexy. This involves injecting a gas bubble into the eye and fixing the retinal tear using cryotherapy.
Another very elegant and more successful surgery for retinal detachment is ‘scleral buckling’. This surgery requires a highly skilled surgeon, who fixes a silicone implant to support the retinal tear from outside the eye. There are many variations of scleral buckling performed worldwide. However, a technique called ‘Minimal Segmental Buckling’, propagated worldwide by Prof. Harvey Lincoff and Prof. Ingrid Kreissig has reported the best results and least complications.
The third type of eye surgery for retinal detachment is called vitrectomy. It involves going inside the eye to remove fluid under the retina and then fixing the retinal tear, followed by insertion of silicone oil or gas in the eye to support the retinal tear. This ‘tamponade’ is usually removed surgically at a later date. This is a maximal surgery with good results and is used to deal with more complicated retinal detachments.
Seek a Retina Specialist Early
Your doctor will examine you and discuss with you the best possible course of action. Just remember to reach him in time! As mentioned before, with prompt good surgery, excellent recovery and vision are possible. If you see flashes or floaters or a curtain of darkness or a blind area in your vision, report to a retina specialist immediately!
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