Without treatment, the retina will lose
the ability to function, possibly permanently, and you will likely lose vision.

Treatment of Retinal Detachment

How will my eye doctor treat a retinal tear?

If you retina has not detached, but you have a small retinal hole or tear, your ophthalmologist will treat it, usually in the office, with laser surgery or with a freeze treatment called cryopexy.

Laser surgery: In this treatment, also known as photocoagulation,your eye surgeon makes small burns around the retinal tear with a laser. These burns cause scarring, which seals the retina to the tissue beneath, helping to prevent a retinal detachment.

Freezing treatment: In this procedure, also known as cryopexy, your ophthalmologist freezes the area of the retina around the tear using a special probe. The resulting scar helps adhere the retina to the eye wall, preventing a retinal detachment.

How is Retinal Detachment treated?

If you have a retinal detachment, you must have surgery to return the retina to its proper position. Without treatment, the retina will lose the ability to function, possibly permanently, and you will likely lose vision. Your eye surgeon will choose one of the following treatment methods based on the kind of detachment you have. No matter which method your doctor chooses, the surgeon will also use either laser surgery or cryotherapy to reattach the retina to its proper place.

Scleral buckle: In the operating room, your eye surgeon places a flexible synthetic band (scleral buckle) around the eye to gently push the wall of the eye against the detached retina. The retina specialist may also drain the fluid that has pooled under the detached retina so that the retina can return to its normal position against the back wall of the eye. Sometimes your doctor will perform a vitrectomy in conjunction with scleral buckle surgery.

Pneumatic retinopexy: In this procedure, sometimes performed in your ophthalmologist's office, the doctor injects a gas bubble into the eye to push the retinal tear against the eye's back wall, where it belongs. Post-surgery, you will be required to remain in a face-down position for a period of time prescribed by your doctor so that the retina can heal properly. S/he may use this treatment in combination with laser surgery or cryotherapy.

Vitrectomy: This common approach to treating a retinal detachment involves removing the vitreous gel so that it can no longer tug on the retina and replacing the vitreous with a gas bubble. In certain instances, your eye surgeon will use an oil bubble rather than a gas bubble to hold the retina in place. While a gas bubble gradually will be replaced by your body's own fluids, your doctor will have to remove an oil bubble with another surgical procedure after your eye heals. Sometimes the doctor will combine a vitrectomy with a scleral buckle.

How successful is Retinal Detachment surgery?

Eighty to ninety percent of all retinal detachment surgeries are successful, although some patients will require a second surgery. If a retinal detachment cannot be fixed, it is usually because the development of excess scar tissue prevents the retina from successfully reattaching. When it is impossible to reattach the retina, vision will continue to deteriorate and that eye will eventually become blind.

If you have undergone successful surgery for retinal detachment, your vision may take several months to improve, and it is possible that your full vision may never return. Unfortunately, some patients do not recover any vision. The more severe the detachment, the less vision a patient is likely to recover. For this reason, it is very important to see your ophthalmologist regularly or at the first sign of any trouble with your vision.