The retina is a membrane inside the eye which
receives images when light falls on it and transmit the pictures to the
brain, similar to the film in a camera.
This is when there is a separation between
the two main layers of the retina. It occurs when there is tension
pulling at the retina which tears and allows fluid to seep in and collect
between the layers. People who are myopic (short-sighted) are
at a slightly higher risk of retinal detachment due to thinner retinal
Any loss in vision may be at the edge of the
visual field and may not be immediately noticed. If the centre of
the retina that allows detailed vision becomes detached there will be a
sudden loss of vision.
flashes of light
shadows or a curtain across the vision.
Pain is not usually associated with retinal
detachment as the retina has no pain nerve fibres.
An operation under general anaesthetic is
usually necessary to re-attach the retinal layers. This is done by
attaching a small sponge to the outside of the eye and sometimes a bubble
of gas on the inside, bringing the layers of the retina together. I f the
jelly in the centre of the eye (the vitreous) is removed (vitrectomy) gas
or fluid may also be injected to maintain the correct pressure. Any
fluid that has collected between the layers will be drawn off.
The other eye will be examined thoroughly
whilst you are asleep and any weak areas of retina sealed to prevent further
What else to expect
Before the operation:
You will be prescribed ‘pre-med’ tablets
to help you relax before going to the theatre.
After the operation:
Your eye might feel sore and your lids slightly
swollen, this will ease over a couple of days and you will be given pain-killers.
You may also feel quite tired for a couple of weeks after the general anaesthetic.
If you have had gas or air inserted, you
will have to rest with your head on your side or front until the retina
looks properly re-attached. You may have to continue at home for
up to a week or 10 days after your operation.
You may need to stay in hospital for more
than one night depending on the extent of the detachment and surgery.
On going home, you should ask your doctor about returning to work or driving.
Your eye drops usually continue for 4 weeks and you should avoid any strenuous
activity for about 4-6 weeks. You will be given an appointment for clinic
follow-up for about a fortnight after the operation.
Results of Surgery
In the majority of cases, the retina can be
repositioned with one operation. In some cases further procedures
may be required. Some people have good vision with a retinal
detachment because the central part of the retina is still in place.
After surgery the vision may be initially worse because of the surgery.
You may need to change your glasses once the eye has healed to get best
Some people do not have good vision with a
retinal detachment, either because of associated bleeding or because the
central part of the retina has been detached. Blood will slowly clear or
may be removed with a further operation. If the central part of the
retina is involved, vision takes some time to improve and may not return
fully to normal.