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Retinal Tear

Retinal Tear.jpeg

The eye is like a camera, with a lens in the front and a sensor or film in the back. The retina is the sensor tissue that lines the inside back of the eye. The inside of the eyeball is filled with a gel called the vitreous, and with age and time the surface of the vitreous gel can separate from the retina. While the process of vitreous separation is common and typically uneventful, in some cases the vitreous gel surface pulls on the retina as it separates, resulting in a tear. A defect in the retina, such as a tear, can allow fluid to enter the space behind the retina, causing a retinal detachment and vision loss.

What is a retinal tear?

As the vitreous gel changes with age, it may pull away from the retina in the back of the eye.  If the adhesion to the retina is abnormally strong or the retina is unusually thin, the gel pulling may be enough to cause a full thickness tear in the retina. Retinal tears are more common in patients.

How is a retinal tear treated?

The goal of treatment is the creation of a controlled scar surrounding the retinal tear. This scar serves to weld the retina and seal it to the underlying tissues, thereby preventing fluid from moving through the retinal tear into the space under the retina (retinal detachment). The scar is created most often by laser treatment (laser retinopexy).  Other less common methods include cryoretinopexy, or a freezing treatment.


What to expect after treatment?

Many patients with retinal tears initially present with symptoms such as flashes of light or new floaters. It is important to understand that treatment is not meant to get rid of these symptoms, but in most cases they do improve significantly over several weeks.  Your retinal physician will continue to monitor for new tear development and retinal detachment.  In some cases, surgery might be needed for significant persistent floaters.

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