The retina is the special layer in the eye that detects light and is responsible for vision. With age it is possible to develop holes in the centre of the retina (macular hole), crinkles in the central retina (epiretinal membrane), retinal holes or retinal detachments. These retinal problems can be treated by surgery or laser.
What happens during my appointment?
Retinal laser surgery is performed under local anaesthetic, eye drops will be given to dilate the pupil and numb the eye and you will remain awake throughout the procedure. Treatment is usually painless. Laser treatment takes around 30 minutes and you can go home following surgery.
If the retina has become detached, retinal surgery will be required. Surgery can be performed under local anaesthetic, drops and an injection are used to numb the eye and surrounding tissue and you will remain awake throughout surgery. Drops will also be used to dilate the pupil. There are different surgical treatments available for retinal detachment:
Vitrectomy involves removing the fluid from the inside. This is then replaced with either a gas or silicone bubble which will hold the retina in position from the inside. The wound will then be closed with tiny dissolving stitches. Following the procedure you will be asked to keep your head in a certain position whilst the bubble settles into place.
Scleral buckling involves stitching fine bands of sponge or silicone rubber in the area the retina has detached to the sclera (the white of the eye). This band will then press the sclera in towards the middle of the eye keeping the torn retina against the wall of the eye. The tear or hole is then closed using laser or freezing treatment around the retina.
Pneumatic retinopexy is when a small bubble of gas is injected into the eye pressing the retina back into place. This procedure is used for relatively small and uncomplicated detachments. A scar is then created to hold the retina in the correct place using laser or freezing treatment. The bubble will be absorbed into the eye over the following weeks. Following the procedure you will be asked to keep your head in a certain position whilst the bubble settles into place.
As with all forms of surgery, there is a small chance of developing complications during or after surgery, these include:
Who will I see for treatment?