Retinal Detachment

About Retinal Detachment

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the wall of the eye. As we age, the vitreous gel that fills the eye begins to liquefy and pulls away from the back of the eye. When the vitreous separates, it often tugs on the retina which can cause floaters (small opacities in the vitreous) and flashing lights. Persistent traction or tugging on the retina can lead to a retinal tear. If the fluid in the eye goes through the tear and under the retina, it lifts part or all of the retina away from the back of the eye causing a retinal detachment.

Risk Factors

Retinal Consultants of Arizona – Retinal Tears & Detachments


There are several different methods to treat a retinal detachment. Surgical repair of a retinal detachment is generally performed as an outpatient procedure, and patients may go home the same day. The Anatomical success rate can be as high as 85-90%. However, some eyes may develop a recurrent retinal detachment and may need additional surgery, regardless of the initial method of treatment. Gas or silicone oil are often injected into the eye to keep the retina attached and hold it in place while the retina re-attaches to the wall of the eye. A gas bubble is gradually absorbed over a period of several days to several weeks, depending on the type of gas used. The gas is replaced by the eye’s own fluid, similar to salted water. A patient cannot travel by airplane or travel to higher elevations with a gas bubble inside the eye. Silicone oil may be necessary if longer retina support is required, allowing the eye more time to heal. Once the retina is stable, silicone oil is often removed from the eye by an additional surgical procedure. Patients with silicone oil in their eye can safely travel to higher altitudes and fly in an airplane.

RCA & the AAO Present Retina Detached Pneumatic Retinopexy

Pneumatic retinopexy is a procedure performed in the office using cryo (freezing) therapy to seal off a retinal tear, followed by injecting a small gas bubble into the eye to reattach the retina.

RCA & the AAO Present Retina Detached Scleral Buckle

Scleral buckle surgery is conducted in the operating room. A permanent, external band of silicone rubber is placed around the eye, similar to a belt. The sclera buckle provides external support for the retina and it is usually not visible after the eye has healed. Cryo (freezing) therapy is used to seal the tear, and a gas bubble is usually injected into the eye during this surgery. A sclera buckle is used by itself or in combination with vitrectomy surgery.

RCA & the AAO Present Retina Detached Vitrectomy Scleral Buckle

Vitrectomy surgery is also performed in the operating room by itself or in combination with a sclera buckle. During vitrectomy surgery, three very small instruments are placed inside the eye and the vitreous gel is removed and replaced with a gas bubble. Scar tissue, retinal membranes, and blood within the vitreous gel can be removed during vitrectomy surgery. Laser is often used to seal off the tears.

RCA & the AAO Present Retina Detached Vitrectomy

Here is a great tool for patients who plan to travel or adjust elevations after having surgery – Elevation Calculator – please consult your physician before traveling.

Contact us to learn more about Retinal Detachment.