Surgery is often required to reattach loose retinas, and most treatments are successful. Surgery can be done under general and local anaesthetic depending on the doctor’s and the patient's personal preference.
Retinal detachment surgery
Depending on the individual and the scale of the retina problems, there are several different surgeries available, including:
- Laser surgery - a laser can weld the retina back to the tissue by creating a scar. It does this by burning around the retinal tear.
- Cryotherapy - extreme cold destroys abnormal tissue and forms a retinal scar around the tear. The scar attaches the retina to the wall of the eye.
- Scleral buckling - this involves attaching silicone or sponge onto the sclera (the white of the eye) at the spot of the retinal tear. Doing this holds the retina against the sclera until a scar heals the damage.
- Vitrectomy - the vitreous humor gel is taken from the eye to allow easy access to the retina. Silicone oil acts as a substitute to keep the retina in place. Stitches repair the hole or tear, and the silicon oil gets removed months after.
- Pneumatic retinopexy - This happens in less complicated cases. Cyropexy is first used to freeze the torn area, and the vitreous cavity gets injected with a bubble. The bubble prevents additional fluid from gathering under the retina and puts pressure on the retina, causing it to reattach.
Recovery ranges from a few weeks to many months, during which time you are likely to experience reduced vision initially, which should improve as you heal. Some people may experience reduced peripheral or central vision, even if the retina is attached again.
Leaking fluid, and feelings of stickiness and itchiness around the eye are normal after surgery.