The Retina

The retina is the innermost layer of the wall of the eye and is made up of light sensitive cells known as rods and cones, which detect shape, colour and pattern. It is supported on the inside by the jelly-like vitreous, which fills the eyeball behind the lens.

On its outer side the retina is attached to the choroid, or middle layer, which is rich in blood vessels. Nerve fibres leaving the retina bundle together to form the optic nerve, which relays visual information to the brain.

What is retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment is when the retina pulls away from the tissue around it (the choroid), which supplies it with oxygen and nutrients.

When the retina is detached it can no longer function and vision is lost.

Causes of retinal detachment

The most common cause of retinal detachment is age-related shrinkage of the vitreous gel, which may lead to tearing at a weak point in the retina. Once such a tear or hole develops, fluid can collect beneath it and reduce the adhesion of the retina to the choroid, resulting in a detachment. Injury to the eye can also cause retinal detachment, although this is less common.

Who is at risk of retinal detachment?

People at increased risk of retinal detachment include:

Symptoms of retinal detachment

Retinal detachment is painless. A retinal tear may be accompanied by the sensation of flashing lights in the affected eye or showers of dark floaters and blurred vision.

As the retina detaches it often causes a dark shadow, like a curtain or veil, in the peripheral vision, which usually progresses to complete vision loss.

See your doctor or eye specialist straightaway if you experience any of the above visual disturbances, because a retinal detachment needs prompt corrective surgery to prevent permanent damage to your eyesight.

Retina Detachment Surgery

Surgery for retinal detachment

Retinal detachment surgery involves reattaching the retina to the back of the eye and sealing any breaks or holes. Your retinal specialist will examine your eye to decide the most appropriate operation.

Operative procedures for retinal detachment

There are various methods available to reattach the retina, including:

After surgery for retinal detachment

Immediately after the operation, you can expect:

During the post-operative period:

If you have had gas inserted into your eye as part of your retinal re-attachment procedure, it is extremely important that you do not fly until it has completely reabsorbed. This may take up to four weeks

Possible complications of surgery for retinal detachment

Risks and complications depend on the procedure used, but can include:

Long term outlook for retinal detachment

In most specialist centres around nine out of ten retinal detachments are successfully repaired with a single operation. In the remaining cases, the retina re-detaches and needs another operation. The final success rate is over 95 per cent.

Recovery of vision may take 8-12 months . In very less cases, surgery gets failed and chances of pthisis bulbi after many surgery remains.

Whether or not your vision returns depends not only on the success or failure of the operation, but also on the duration, extent and location of the detachment. For example, if the macula (the part of the retina responsible for central vision) has detached, it is unlikely that full vision will ever return, even if the operation is successful.

Are there other forms of treatment for retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment can only be repaired with surgery. If left untreated, your vision will most likely worsen beyond repair. Seeing an eye specialist as soon as you experience symptoms leads to the best outcome.


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