Retinal detachment is a peeling away of the
retina from the wall of the eye usually associated with high degrees of short sight. It can be
associated with trauma and other more unusual injuries in the eye. Patients will often notice
a shadow coming into the vision as unfortunately, the retina peels away and function is lost.
We do have very successful techniques for surgical repair. And in recent years, vitrectomy
surgery has become the gold standard for the vast majority of retinal detachments.
Vitrectomy is carried out by making small incisions as the patient is lying down in
the eye theatre. The eye is not taken out of the eye socket. Small incisions are made
in the whites of the eye, the sclera, three small incisions. This allows the surgeon access
to the space behind the lens. The jelly is removed from the eye. This is the vitrectomy
process. And this then gives access to the retina itself where the surgeon can then apply
laser treatment, freezing treatment, suck out fluid from behind the retina and usually
insert a bubble of gas to hold the retina in place.
Anyway, the hole in the retina is that’s causing the detachment, I may ask patients
to lie in a certain positions so that the bubble floats and presses on different parts
of the retina holding it in place while the freezing and laser treatment work and provide
a long term secure seal keeping the retina in place.
Vitrectomy surgery for retinal detachment is around 90% successful for most retinal
detachments. Unfortunately, without treatment, the majority of acute retinal detachment will
result in complete loss of vision and surgery is fairly urgent. So if you do have any symptoms
consistent with retinal detachment, which would include flashing lights, floaters, or
a shadow in the vision, you must contact an optician or ideally an eye surgeon on an urgent
basis, within a day.