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Treating Retinal Tears and Detachments

Side view of eye showing lens on front of eye. Laser light is focusing on inside back wall of eye.
Laser therapy is a common treatment for retinal tears.

Depending on your retinal damage, your eye care provider may use 1 or more procedures to treat the problem. Some treatments can be done in your eye care provider’s office. Others need surgery in a hospital or surgery center. In some cases, emergency care may be needed to save your eyesight.

Sealing a tear

Tears are treated to prevent fluid from leaking beneath the retina and causing a detachment. Treatments include:

  • Laser therapy. The eye may be numbed. Then a laser beam is directed into the eye. This makes small scars that seal the area around the tear.

  • Cryotherapy. The eye is numbed. A freezing probe is then placed on the outside of the eye next to the tear. The scar that develops helps secure the retina to the back of the eye.

Fixing a detachment

There are several ways to treat retinal detachments. These include:

  • Pneumatic retinopexy. The eye is filled with a gas bubble. As the gas expands, it pushes the retina back into place. Laser or cryotherapy is also done to seal around any tears in the retina. 

  • Scleral buckling. A scleral buckle is a flexible band that is put around part or all of the eye. It is then tightened to press the eye wall against the retina. This allows the retina to settle back into its normal position. Cryotherapy is also done to seal around any tears in the retina. 

  • Vitrectomy. The vitreous may be taken out to keep it from pulling on the retina. It is replaced with gas or a clear liquid called silicone oil. Laser or cryotherapy is also done to seal around any tears in the retina. 

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