The retina is the light-sensitive tissue in the eye that sends visual information to the brain. When this tissue pulls away from the eyewall, it can cause permanent loss of sight. Retinal detachment surgery is a procedure that’s carried out to protect the vision of patients with a detached retina. In the following piece, we’ll look at what happens during retinal detachment surgery, the associated risks, and other important things you need to know about this treatment.
But before we dive into the main topic, let’s quickly discuss what retinal detachment means, the possible causes, and signs that your retina has detached from its original position.
What Is A Retinal Detachment?
Retinal detachment is an eye condition that occurs when the retina becomes loose and pulls away from the surrounding tissue. Since the retina cannot function properly when detached, it can lead to vision loss if not quickly treated.
Causes Retinal Detachment
The most prevalent cause of retinal detachment is aging. The condition is more common in people older than 60. You are also at greater risk if you have had a serious eye injury before or have undergone eye surgery. People with the following conditions are also more likely to have a retinal detachment:
- Extreme shortsightedness (myopia)
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)
- Eye conditions like retinoschisis or lattice degeneration
Patients may not experience any symptoms if only a tiny part of their retina has detached. However, in more severe cases, the patients may have blurred vision or start seeing flashes of light in one or both eyes. Other possible signs of retinal detachment include:
- The appearance of small dark dots or lines (floaters) in your vision
- Presence of a curtain-like window across your field of vision.
What Happens During Surgery?
There are various ophthalmological techniques used to treat retinal detachment. The right treatment option will depend on the severity of the condition. Retinal detachment repair may involve the following:
Vitrectomy: This is a surgical procedure in which the jelly fluid in the eye (vitreous) is drained and replaced with another solution.
Sclera buckling: In this procedure, the ophthalmologist attaches a thin, flexible band to the white outer layer of your eye (the sclera) to bring the eyewall and retina together. It may also be performed along with a vitrectomy.
Pneumatic retinopexy: This involves injecting a gas bubble into the eye to push the affected area of the retina against the eyewall. It is often done in an office setting, unlike other procedures used to treat retinal detachment.
Note: Retinal detachment surgery is performed under local anesthetic, so you don’t feel any pain. You may not even need to stay overnight at the hospital.
Aftercare from Surgery
Your eyes may be blood-red and sore immediately after the surgery – use paracetamol if necessary. For up to 6 weeks after the operation, you will need to be applying eye drops to prevent infection and lower inflammation.
Avoid doing any rigorous exercise and heavy lifting during this period. Also, make sure you don’t let any soap or shampoo or soap enter your eye for the first four weeks. You should also stay away from swimming for a minimum of 12 weeks.
Plus, the doctor may tell you to keep your head and body in a particular position based on where the retinal holes are located. You may have to do this for up to 10 days after your retinal detachment surgery.
How Long Is the Recovery from Retinal Detachment Surgery?
It may take several weeks to recover your vision after retinal detachment surgery. You may experience blurry vision for many days or even weeks after the operation. If you had a pneumatic retinopexy, your vision won’t be clear until the gas bubble is absorbed. The blurry vision will also persist if you had a vitrectomy using silicon oil until the oil is removed.
Are there any Risks?
The risks of retinal detachment surgery will depend on the technique used. People who undergo this surgery may experience hemorrhage in the vitreous cavity (bleeding inside the eye) or infection. You’re also more likely to have cataracts and glaucoma due to increased pressure in the eye.
It’s also possible to develop a late corneal scar, especially if you have a vitrectomy for retinal detachment and have had corneal transplant surgery before.