28 Apr Retinal Detachment | Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
Welcome! I’m Randy Wong. Thank you very much for watching this video. Today we are going to talk about retinal detachments.
We are going to talk about;
- The definition of a retinal detachment
- What it can cause – the signs and symptoms
- Surgery to fix a retinal detachment
- Timing – when is the best time for surgery?
I hope you enjoy this.
Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment
Today we are going to talk about 1 of 2 types of retinal detachments. We are going talk about rhegmatogenous retinal detachments and, by definition, that means the detachment is caused either by a retinal hole or retinal tear.
The hole or tear allows the fluid from the middle of the eye to communicate to a space underneath the retina. So therefore if fluid accumulates underneath the retina through this hole or tear, the retina detaches.
Keep in mind a retinal detachment is potentially blinding. So as we will talk about later, there is some urgency, or sometimes it’s an emergency, to fix a retinal detachment.
Symptoms of a Retinal Detachment
Symptoms of a retinal detachment include loss of your peripheral vision and usually the peripheral, or side vision, is involved first and the loss of vision moves centrally.
Flashes and floaters are also commonly associated with a retinal detachment because those are usually signs of a retinal tear that you may have sustained.
So, the recommendations are that new flashes and new floaters should be examined by your doctor and your doctor ought to be looking for a retinal tear because it is our job to try and prevent you from getting a retinal detachment if we can diagnose a retinal tear.
Again, symptoms of a retinal detachment include; loss of peripheral vision, especially if the vision loss is moving centrally, new flashes and new floaters.
What Do You Do? (When to call your eye doctor)
What should you do if you think you are having a retinal detachment? Maybe you’ve noticed an increase in flashes, an increase in the number of floaters or you are losing your peripheral vision.
My suggestion would be to let your own eye doctor know that you are having these new symptoms.
Once you arrive at your eye doctor’s office you need to get your pupils dilated. By dilating your pupils your doctor can directly examine your retina and if he diagnoses, or she diagnoses, you with a retinal detachment, you are going to need surgery.
Unfortunately, there are not any drops or medicines to fix a retinal detachment.
Retinal Detachment | Surgery
There are three ways or three methods to fix a retinal detachment. The first is called a pneumatic retinopexy. The second is an operation called a scleral buckle and the third is an operation called a vitrectomy.
A pneumatic retinopexy involves injection of gas into your eye. The gas is used as a tool to help reattach your retina. With a pneumatic retinopexy, depending upon the location of the tear, you may have to hold your head in a certain position.
This is sometimes face down, this is sometimes keeping your head straight up or to the right or to the left. Again, the positioning depends upon the location of the tear.
A pneumatic retinopexy can be done in the office and can be very effective in fixing retinal detachments.
A second way to fix a retinal detachment is with a scleral buckle. A scleral buckle involves placing a silicone band or rubber around the outside of your eye.
Don’t worry, it will be completely unnoticed once you’ve healed up. It’s intended to stay there.
A scleral buckle is a very effective way to repair a retinal detachment and has been around for several generations. It does require surgery and the most common complication of scleral buckle surgery is the increase in nearsightedness after the operation because your eye is actually made slightly longer.
A third way to fix a retinal detachment is with a vitrectomy. Remember a scleral buckle involves placing an element or a piece of rubber around the outside of your eye.
A vitrectomy involves going inside the eye to remove the vitreous and the fluid underneath the retina. Many times gas is also put into the eye at the end of the operation and just like pneumatic retinopexy you may have to hold your head in a certain position.
Vitrectomy and Scleral Buckle
So there are three ways to fix a retinal detachment: either with pneumatic a retinopexy, a scleral buckle or a vitrectomy.
Now, many times, surgeons may decide to combine both a scleral buckle and vitrectomy. This is really personal preference and all surgeons have different indications as to when to perform both.
Timing of Retinal Detachment Surgery
The timing of retinal detachment surgery is really dependant upon whether or not the macula, which is the functional center of your retina, is, what we call “threatened.”
Another way to look at it is;
“What’s the chance of you losing your central vision if we delay surgery”? If you have a retinal detachment which is not threatening your macula, therefore, it’s not threatening your central vision. Waiting a day, or longer, probably is appropriate.
Another situation is where the macula is already detached which would mean that your central vision is already lossed. Again, this is an urgent situation but not an emergent situation.
Probably the only time where retinal detachment surgery is an emergency is when you still have 20/20 vision, that is, your central vision is intact, but your doctor feels that if your retinal detachment were to enlarge your central vision might be in jeopardy.
Summary of Retinal Detachments
To summarize, we’ve talked about retinal detachments, specifically we’ve talked about rhegmatogenous retinal detachments and those are retinal detachments that involve a hole or tear in the retina.
We talked about symptoms of retinal detachments; new onset flashes, new onset floaters or loss of your peripheral vision.
We talked about surgery. The three options are pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckle and/or vitrectomy.
We talked briefly about the timing of surgery…it’s all dependent if your central vision, or your macula is involved.
Thank you for watching!
I’m Randy Wong. I’m a retina specialist in Fairfax, Virginia. Thank you very much for watching this video. I hope you enjoyed it.
By the way, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them at the end of this video on YouTube or at the end of the article if you are reading this on one of my blogs.
We will see you again!