WHAT IS A RETINAL TEAR?
The majority of the time, a posterior vitreous detachment separates without complications. Like taking a piece of tape off a piece of paper, most of the time it comes off clean but sometimes it comes off with a tear.
If a tear occurs in the retina, this can allow the natural fluid in the eye to enter and cause the retina to peel off (like wall paper coming off of the wall). When the retina pulls away from the back of the eye, it is called a retinal detachment.
The goal is to catch retinal tears before this happens so it can be treated so avoid surgery and/or blindness.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR A TORN RETINA?
Risk factors for a retinal tear include:
• Nearsightedness (myopia, needing glasses to see far)
• Previous eye surgery
• Glaucoma medications that make the pupil small (for example: pilocarpine)
• Severe eye injury
• Previous retinal detachment in the other eye
• Family history of retinal detachment
• Weak areas in the retina that can be seen by an ophthalmologist during an eye exam. (lattice degeneration).
TORN OR DETACHED RETINA SYMPTOMS
The following symptoms are very concerning for a retinal tear or retinal detachment:
• A sudden increase in size and number of floaters
• A sudden appearance of flashes in the vision
• Having a shadow appear in the periphery (side) of the vision
• Seeing a gray curtain moving across your vision
• A sudden decrease in your vision
Having any of the above symptoms is concerning. Having more than one of the above symptoms represents an even higher risk.
Do not hesitate to call to make an appointment if you are experiencing any of the above.
Diagnosis of TORN OR DETACHED RETINA
Retinal tear or retinal detachment is diagnosed with a dilated eye examination. In some cases an ultrasound of the eye may also be performed if the retina cannot be visualized due to bleeding, poor dilation, or some other reason.
TREATMENT OF TORN RETINA
Laser surgery (Laser photocoagulation)
A retinal tear that has not progressed to a retinal detachment can be treated with laser surgery. Laser is used to create little burns around the tear or hole to seal the retina to prevent fluid from leaking into the hole and prevents a retinal detachment from occurring
However, if the retina has detached then surgery is required to re-attach the retina.