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  • Will working long hours on the computer be a problem for someone with a hole in the retina?


    My boyfriend has just been told that he has a hole in his retina. He is 18 years old and his job requires him to be in front of a computer all day. Can this be making it worse and also is there any treatment that doesn't involve surgery? If he does have surgery, what can go wrong?


    Many patients have retinal holes associated with a condition called lattice vitreoretinal degeneration, or thinning of the retina. If the patient is asymptomatic, most studies have suggested that it is safe to observe the retinal hole without any treatment. By asymptomatic, we mean that the patient is not experiencing any new symptoms of floaters, cobwebs, shadows, or flashing lights.

    However, if the patient is symptomatic, then we seal the retinal hole using a "welding" technique with a laser. The laser surgery is done on an outpatient basis and is successful in a very high percentage of circumstances. Rarely, the retinal hole will enlarge and lead to a retinal detachment in spite of, but not as a result of, the laser surgery. There are cases where the patient can develop some scar tissue on the central retina—the macula—which can result in distorted central vision.

    Sitting in front of a computer does not make it worse. The laser surgery is of very low risk in general—especially if the patient follows instructions and remains relatively still during the few minutes it takes to seal the hole.

    This question was originally published on Feb. 13, 2013.

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