• Torn Retina: Diagnosis and Treatment

    Written By:
    Reviewed By: G Atma Vemulakonda, MD
    Jun. 18, 2020

    How Is a Retinal Tear Diagnosed?

    Your ophthalmologist will put drops in your eye to dilate (widen) the pupil. He or she then will look through a special lens to see any changes inside the eye. This is the best way to see if you have a retinal tear or early retinal detachment.

    Profile-view Illustration of an eye, detailing anatomy that includes the cornea, lens, retina, optic nerve, among other structures.

    How Are Retinal Tears Treated?

    There are two ways your eye surgeon may fix your retinal tear.

    Photocoagulation

    A laser is used to seal the retina to the wall of the eye. The goal is to keep fluid from going through the tear and detaching the retina.

    The treatment usually takes less than 15 minutes. It may be done right in your ophthalmologist’s office. Your ophthalmologist puts a lens on the front of your eye to focus the laser. He or she then makes tiny burns with the laser to form scars. The scars seal the retina to the wall of the eye.

    Cryopexy

    Extreme cold is used to seal the retina to the wall of the eye. The goal is to keep fluid from going through the tear and detaching the retina.

    This treatment usually takes less than 30 minutes. It may be done right in your ophthalmologist’s office. The surgeon uses a special probe that delivers intense cold energy to the retina. This freezes the retina around the tear and creates scar tissue. The scars seal the retina to the eye wall.

    What Are Retinal Tear Surgery Risks?

    Like any surgery, retinal tear surgery has risks. Following are some of these risks.

    • Eye infection
    • Bleeding in your eye
    • Increased pressure inside the eye, which can lead to glaucoma
    • Cataract, when the lens in your eye becomes cloudy
    • The need for a second surgery
    • The possibility that the retinal tear does not close

    Your ophthalmologist will discuss these and other risks and how surgery can help you.

    What Should I Expect After Surgery for a Retinal Tear?

    • You might have some pain for a few hours after surgery. You will be given pain medicine to help you feel better.
    • You will need to rest and be less active after surgery for a few weeks. Your ophthalmologist will tell you when you can exercise, drive or do other things again.
    • You may need to wear an eye patch after surgery. Be sure to wear it as long as your doctor tells you to.
    • You might see floaters and flashing lights for a few weeks after surgery.