A retinal detachment is a progressive blinding condition, which if left untreated, leads to irreversible blindness and loss of the eye. A retinal detachment is a disorder in which the retina peels away from the underlying layer of support tissue, usually the result of a retinal break, hole or tear. As a result, fluid leaks underneath the retina, causing detachment. There are usually a number of warning symptoms – floaters or flashes of light, followed by a dark shadow at the side of the vision.
Today, the repair of retinal detachments has greatly improved and we can usually restore good vision to our patients.
Retinal detachment surgery is required for a retinal detachment repair, and may involve the use of scleral buckles, vitrectomy, laser, cryo therapy (laser or freezing treatment to the retina), intraocular gas bubble or intraocular silicone oil. Retinal Detachment requires urgent referral for surgery.The type and timing of treatment is tailor-made to the type of retinal detachment, as these vary greatly.
Following retinal detachment repair, you may have a large gas bubble in your eye, which will dissolve on its own, or you may have silicone oil, which will have to be removed at a later operation. You may be required to posture so that the gas bubble or oil bubble floats up against the retinal tear to seal it whilst the laser treatment takes its time to stick the retina down.
Dr Bourke is one of a select number of ophthalmologists who specialise in retinal detachment having furthered his Retinal training at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Royal Liverpool Hospital between 1991-1995. Dealing with the very worst cases over the past 2 decades has allowed the development of techniques that almost always allow the retina to be re-attached at the time of surgery. Nevertheless, despite optimal treatment, there is a condition that can cause re-detachment of the retina (proliferative vitreoretinopathy). This is an abnormal wound healing process, which leads to scarring on the surface of the retina, which contracts and pulls the retina off.
It is also possible that other biological processes that start as a result of retinal detachment could affect your vision. These include: distorted vision, double vision and cataract. Most of these can be rectified, however sometimes the vision remains poor despite excellent surgery.
If treatment of a retinal detachment is not undertaken the eye will go blind. With retinal detachment repair, over 95% of cases are successfully re-attached with one retinal reattachment operation.
It should be noted that retinal detachments come in a myriad of forms and the above treatments are tailored for the patient’s specific retinal detachment problem.