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What is Retinal Detachment Surgery

Retina surgeries are most commonly needed to correct a retinal detachment , which is literally the retina separating itself from its attachments to underlying tissue due to which the retina stops receiving oxygen. Retinal breaks, holes and tears occur due to diseases such as high myopia and other eye diseases and are the cause of retinal detachment. The symptoms are quite scary; floaters (shiny tiny objects) might appear before your eyes, light may flash in front of you randomly; tinted view with colours like grey, vision may become wavy or go altogether. If left untreated retinal detachment can cause permanent blindness. Retinal detachment surgery repair & restores circulation to the retina and preserves vision. Early detection and diagnosis offer the highest recovery chances.

The retina sends images to your brain through the optic nerve. It functions like a camera or rather a camera tries to replicate the functioning of the retina. Millions of cells within the retina detect and process light; it is imperative to your vision. The retina is found in the back of the eyeball and retinal detachment takes place when it pulls away from the back of the eyeball thereby losing blood supply and oxygen. Without receiving oxygen through blood, retinal cells begin dying. In case the macula or central begins detaching itself, vision can be permanently damaged; if this can be prevented, chances of full vision recovery are higher. Detachment usually occurs when the vitreous fluid moves away from the back of the eye, pulling and tearing the retina along with it, eventually detaching the retina completely. Retinal detachment can occur because of injury to eye, a family history, nearsightedness, cataract surgeries done before or retinal detachment treatment done to the other eye.

There are other non surgical methods to correct retinal tears which might be easier to rectify. The severity of retinal damage or detachment determines the kind of treatment and amount and type of anaesthesia that will be used.

For instance if the retina has a simple tear; it can be rectified by cryotherapy (freezing) or by laser surgery. Pneumatic Retinopexy is another method of retinal detachment rectification : this is a very interesting method wherein a gas bubble is inserted into the eye and this bubble eventually pushes the retina back toward the posterior of the eye : thereafter cryotherapy or a laser is used to firmly put back the retina in its original place. This is a simple and commonly practiced procedure. The bubble vanishes after a few days. When it comes to more severe tears, one option is a scleral buckle. A flexible band or “buckle” is placed around the eye which exerts counter pressure on the retina, pushing it back and draining the fluid that was detaching it in the first place. This is a complex process and needs to be performed in a proper operation theatre. When the retinal damage is severe, the vitreous fluid inside the eye needs to be drained out, this is called a vitrectomy.

Risks are not many; there is the general risk of going through a surgery in general. Some damage suffered by the retina may not be rectified even after surgery. Multiple operations might be required if the retina is not reattached properly or fully.

Dr. Prashaant Chaudhry
Senior Consultant & HOD
Dept of Ophthalmology and Refractive Surgery

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