Retinal Tear, Retinal Hole and Retinal Detachment

Retinal Tear

The retina is a tissue present at the back of the eye that is responsible for vision. Severe near-sightedness, eye injury, cataract surgery or familial history may cause a retinal tear. The retina is attached to the choroid tissue which provides the blood supply to the retina. When the retina tears, it gets detached from the choroid tissue along with its blood supply. A retinal tear is characterised by symptoms such as the appearance of floaters (small moving spots in the vision field), flashes of light in front of the eyes, darkening of your side vision and gradual loss of vision.

Detachment of the retina and retinal tears can be diagnosed by a complete and thorough check-up of your eye. Your doctor may gently apply pressure on your eye with a blunt instrument or cotton swab, and shine a bright light to examine the retina. Additional eye tests may be ordered, such as eye pressure test, vision test and ultrasound, to determine the cause of symptoms.

Retinal tears can be treated if diagnosed in the early stages. The various methods of treatment include:

  • Laser surgery: Laser beams are used to create burns. The scars formed help to seal the tear.
  • Freeze treatment: A freezing probe is used to freeze the tissue around the tear. The scars formed help to seal the tear.
  • Pneumatic retinopexy: In this procedure, a gas bubble is injected into the eye. It pushes against the retina and closes the tear. The tear is then sealed by freezing or using a laser.
  • Scleral buckle: a silicone band is stitched onto the white of the eye so that it pushes against the tear till it heals.
  • Vitrectomy: This procedure is used for large retinal tears. Your doctor replaces your vitreous (a gel-like substance between the lens and the retina) with a saline solution.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is an eye disorder in which the retina (light receptive layer of tissue at the back of the eye) is pulled away from its normal position. In retinal detachment, the retina gets separated from the underlying choroid (layer of blood vessels that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the retina), and leaves the retinal cells deprived of oxygen. Certain risk factors, such as aging, severe nearsightedness, an eye injury, cataract surgery and family history, can increase the chances of retinal detachment. If not treated early, this condition can cause permanent vision loss.

Certain symptoms appear as warning signs and almost always appear before retinal detachment can occur or become more severe. The characteristic signs and symptoms that indicate the onset of retinal detachment include:

  • Sudden onset of blurred vision
  • Partial vision loss (as if a gray curtain is moving across the field of vision)
  • Eye floaters (tiny specks or strings floating in the field of vision)
  • Eye flashes (illusion offlashing lights in the side vision)
  • Shadows or blind spots (areas of darkness) in the field of vision

To diagnose retinal detachment, a comprehensive eye examination is performed; wherein the physical appearance of your eye, vision, eye pressure and your ability to see colors is tested. Your doctor instills eye drops to dilate your pupil in order to see your retina properly. An ultrasound may also be ordered in certain cases.

There are several treatment modalities for retinal detachment, with vitrectomy being the most widely used surgical procedure.