Diagnosing and Treating Retinal Tear and Detachment

Woman with healthy eyes looking into the camera.  Retinal tear and detachment are serious eye conditions that can threaten your sight and ocular health. The ophthalmologists at Broberg Eye Care can be your first line of defense by providing screening for these conditions. Dr. Peter Broberg, Dr. Halsey SettleDr. William McGlathery, and Dr. Ximena de Sabra offer retinal tear and detachment diagnostic testing at our Austin, TX practice. To schedule an appointment, contact our office today.

What Is the Retina?

The retina is a layer of ocular tissues that converts light into nerve impulses. In a healthy eye, the retina is attached to the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). This band of cells sits between the retina and its underlying connective tissue, called the choroid, to keep it functioning properly. As a person ages, the vitreous, the gel that flows within the eye, may disconnect from the retina without incident or symptoms. This process is entirely normal.

However, in some patients, the separation of the vitreous material can pull on the retina, creating a small tear or even complete detachment. In some cases, the retina may detach spontaneously due to vitreous movement, or it may detach as a result of an untreated tear, which allows fluid to get between the retina and underlying tissue. Retinal tear and detachment can compromise your vision because the retina no longer receives nourishment and oxygen from the RPE or choroid.

Retinal Tear and Detachment Symptoms

Contact our office immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Seeing flashers, small bursts of light, or floaters, spots or lines in your vision (although flashers and floaters are typically innocuous)
  • Dark shadows in your eyesight
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Blurriness or haziness

Our doctors may be able to identify signs of retinal tear or detachment even when you are experiencing no symptoms, so it is important to attend regular eye exams. During these appointments, our ophthalmologists perform dilated eye tests to examine your retina for damage.

Risk Factors

Some patients are at higher risk for retinal tear and detachment. You should be especially vigilant about monitoring your symptoms and attending eye exams if you:

  • Suffer from severe myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Have family members who have experienced retinal tears or detachments
  • Have had a retina tear or detach in the past
  • Suffer from any other ocular disorders
  • Have experienced trauma to your eye
  • Underwent surgery for cataracts
  • Suffer from diabetes, especially if you have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy

Treatment Options

While they do not usually present noticeable symptoms at their onset, retinal tear and detachment can quickly lead to blindness. We recommend treating these conditions within a few days to ensure that you maintain your health and vision. Our ophthalmologists can diagnose retinal tear and detachment and then refer you to a trusted partner retinal specialist for treatment, which may include:

  • Cryopexy, a method of ocular tissue freezing to create scar tissue, which holds the retina in place.
  • Laser surgery to repair tears and reposition the retina.
  • Scleral buckling, in which the surgeon uses silicone to reconnect the retina to the walls of the eye and its underlying tissue.
  • Pneumatic retinoplexy, a technique that involves placing a small gas bubble within the eye to push the retina back in place as tissue heals around it.
  • Vitrectomy, during which the surgeon removes the vitreous and replaces it with a sterile saltwater solution.

Learn More about Retinal Tear and Detachment

Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

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