About Retinal Tears
As the vitreous gel in the back of the eye starts to liquefy, it can separate from the retina, a condition called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). If the vitreous gel adheres too firmly to the retina, a retinal tear can occur with a PVD. The tear can also progress to a retinal detachment, a more serious condition that happens when fluid leaks through the tear and separates the retina from the back of the eye.
Causes and Symptoms
Light passes to your retina through a large space in the center of the eye called the vitreous cavity. This cavity is filled with a clear, jelly-like substance called vitreous which is normally in contact with the retina. A posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) occurs when the vitreous gel separates from the retina. This happens in most eyes as we age and tends to occur earlier in myopic (nearsighted) eyes and after trauma or eye surgery. In most cases, this separation does not cause any significant problems. However, when a posterior vitreous detachment occurs, the vitreous gel sometimes pulls holes or rips tears in the retina.
Symptoms of a retinal tear can include the sudden appearance of floaters (black spots) or flashes of light. However, some patients experience very few symptoms. If a vitreous hemorrhage (bleeding) or retinal detachment also occurs, additional symptoms can include blurred vision or loss of peripheral (side) vision.
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A retinal tear can be diagnosed through a thorough dilated eye exam. Sometimes our physicians order an ophthalmic ultrasound to assist with the diagnosis.
Treatment and Prognosis
The prognosis is good if a retinal tear is caught early before it progresses to a retinal detachment. Treatment can include:
- Laser Treatment: The laser causes scarring to the underlying tissue so the retinal tear can be sealed. This prevents fluid from getting under the retina. This procedure is performed in our office.
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy offers a similar result by freezing the area to seal the tear, preventing further damage. It is also performed in our office.
Both of these methods are used to prevent the retinal tear from developing into a retinal detachment. Surgery may be necessary if a retinal detachment has already developed along with the retinal tear.
Our sub-specialized, board-certified ophthalmologists at Retinal Consultants of Houston are experienced in treating both retinal tears and retinal detachment.
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While retinal tears generally do not cause long-term vision loss and can be effectively repaired through minimally invasive techniques or laser treatment, it is important that the condition is caught early. If not, a retinal detachment may occur which almost always causes vision loss or blindness. At Retina Consultants of Houston, we will evaluate each case promptly, offering a fast and effective diagnosis so treatment can be performed before further damage occurs.