Most retinal detachments are emergencies that require surgical repair by a retinal specialist. Retinal detachments are usually caused by a tear or hole in the retina, which allows fluid to collect under the retina, separating it from the back wall of the eye. Retinal detachments can result in partial or total loss of vision. The goal of retinal detachment surgery is to remove the fluid under the retina and secure the retina at the site of the retinal tear or hole to prevent more fluid from re-accumulating under the retina. Surgeries to reattach the retina include “Vitrectomy” and “Scleral Buckling.”
Vitrectomy involves placing small instruments in the eye to remove fluid under the retina and to apply a laser treatment to secure the retina in place. Often, gas or sometimes silicone oil is placed in the eye to hold the retina in place until the laser treatment can have its maximal effect.
Scleral buckling involves placing a silicone band or belt around the outside of the eye underneath the muscles that move the eye. The scleral buckle is not visible after the surgery and is rarely removed. The scleral buckle pushes the outer wall of the eye towards the retina to reattach it. Usually a freezing treatment called “cryotherapy” is used to secure the retina in place. For some patients, a retina specialist may choose to perform both a vitrectomy and a scleral buckle to reattach the retina.