Retinal tears cause retinal detachments. A retinal tear may be created by blunt force, a complication of eye surgery or from a posterior vitreous detachment. Early symptoms of a retinal tear include flashes and floaters. It is favorable to find and treat a retinal tear or retinal hole before it develops into a retinal detachment.
New flashes and floaters need to be examined by your doctor. If a tear is present, you want to find it before it develops into a detachment. Retinal tears may be treated with either laser photocoagulation or cryotherapy (freezing). I use both depending upon the location and how easily it is “see” the tear/hole.
The sooner the tear is diagnosed, the greater chance there is of treating just a tear instead of a tear AND and retinal detachment.
If a tear is diagnosed, treating with laser or cryotherapy will cause the same adhesions, or scarring, around the tear, thereby “sealing” the tear. Fluid can no longer gain access to the potential space underneath the retina causing a retinal detachment.
Tears are usually treated safely, and comfortably in the office. There are a few differences between the two modalities. In my opinion, laser is easier and more comfortable for the patient, but at times cryotherapy is necessary due to the location and visability of the tear or hole.
Though a particular tear is treated, new tears can form in other parts of the retina. At any time, therefore, should there be a sudden increase in flashes and/or floaters, re-examination is suggested. After treatment, I prefer re-examination in about one month.