Retinal tears with minimal or no detachment may be treated with laser or freezing (cryopexy) procedures. Most retinal detachments require surgery to reposition the separated retina against the back wall of the eye. There are several methods in use today. The type of surgery used depends on the type and extent of detachment, and the preference of the patient and retinal surgeon. Scleral buckling is the most common operation for a detached retina. In this procedure, the causative retinal tear or tears are located and treated. A flexible piece of rubber is then sewn to the sclera (white of the eye) to support the area of tears and detachment. Fluid may be drained from under the detached retina. Pneumatic retinopexy is another method for retinal detachment repair. It is not suitable for all types of detachment. In this technique, the causative tear or tears are identified and treated. A bubble or a special gas is then injected into the eye. The gas is used to push against the area of the retinal tear(s). Vitrectomy is another surgical method to treat some types of retinal detachment. When a vitrectomy is performed the jelly in the eye is removed by inserting small instruments into the eye through three small incisions. Once the jelly is removed the retinal holes and detachment can be treated from the inside of the eye. It is usually used for detachments with unusual or difficult features, such as very large tears, scar tissue on the retina, excessive blood in the vitreous, or detachments that failed by other methods. These difficult detachments may require that a special gas or silicone oil be placed in the eye. The gas absorbs on its own. The silicone oil will usually need to be removed with another small operation in 3 – 6 months.

Will I get my vision back?

With current methods, most simple retinal detachments can be repaired. Repeat surgery may often be required for more complex retinal detachments. Because the detachment may damage the retina, most people do not get back perfect vision. If the macula (the central, most sensitive part of the retina) was not affected by the detachment, about 2 out of 3 eyes will get back reading vision. If this area was affected, only about 1 out of 3 eyes will get back reading vision i.e. even the use of spectacles will not correct the damage that has occurred to the retina.