Retinal Tear and Detachment
A retinal tear or detachment is a medical emergency. You should contact your doctor immediately as soon as you experience symptoms. The majority of retinal detachments can be surgically repaired.
Cones and rods are specialized receptor cells in the retina. Cones are specialized for color vision and detailed vision, such as for reading or identifying distant objects. Cones work best with bright light. The greatest concentration of cones is found in the macula and fovea at the center of the retina. The macula is the center of visual attention. The fovea is the site of visual acuity or best visual sharpness. Rods are located throughout the rest of the retina.
Your eyes contain more rods than cones. Rods work best in low light. Rods perceive blacks, whites, and grays, but not colors. They detect general shapes. Rods are used for night vision and peripheral vision. High concentrations of rods at the outer portions of your retina act as motion detectors in your peripheral or side vision.
The receptor cells in the retina send nerve messages about what you see to the optic nerve. The optic nerve extends from the back of each eye and join together in the brain at the optic chiasm. From the optic chiasm, the nerve signals travel along two optic tracts in the brain and eventually to the occipital cortex, where you process and perceive vision.
Retinal detachments occur most frequently in people over the age of 40, although they may occur at any age. It is more common in men and Caucasians. Nearsightedness, a personal or family history of retinal detachment, cataract surgery, eye diseases, and eye trauma increase the risk of developing retinal detachment.
Imaging tests may be used to produce pictures of your inner eye blood vessels and retinal structures. Common tests include ultrasound and retinal photography. Ultrasound, also referred to as echography, uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal eye structures. Fundus photography is a specialized medical imaging test used to take pictures of the structures located at the back of the eye, including the retina. It produces a series of photos that are helpful for diagnosing, documenting, and monitoring certain eye conditions. Fluorescein angiography is a specialized type of photographic eye test that is used to detect blood vessel problems in the retina and choroid. The test uses an injected dye and a special camera to take photos of the vessels.
There are a variety of surgery techniques that are used to secure a detached or torn retina. Laser surgery may be used to seal a torn retina. A pneumatic retinopexy is a procedure for retinal detachments that has been recently introduced. For this procedure, a gas bubble is inserted to hold the retina in place and a laser may be used to seal the retina. A pneumatic retinopexy may also be used in combination with cryopexy. Cryopexy is a procedure that uses extremely cold temperature to create a scar that holds the retina to its underlying layer.
A scleral buckle procedure may be used for advanced retinal detachments. It involves securing a thin band of silicone around the sclera, the white part of your eye. Buckles are placed to create a dimple. The procedure moves the tissues in the eye closer together and releases fluid under the retina, causing the retina to reattach. Scleral buckles are performed with local or general anesthesia. They are most frequently performed as outpatient procedures.
A vitrectomy is a procedure that may be used alone or with a scleral buckle procedure. A vitrectomy involves removing the gel from the inside of the eye. The gel may be replaced with an air bubble or silicone oil to promote healing and protect the retina.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.