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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 healthcare provider may use one or more procedures to treat the problem. Some treatments can be done in your eye healthcare provider’s office. Others need surgery in a hospital or surgery center. In some cases, emergency treatment may be necessary 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 creates 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 methods for treating 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 performed to seal around any tears in the retina. 

  • Scleral buckling. A scleral buckle is a soft band that is surgically put around part or all 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 performed to seal around any tears in the retina. 

  • Vitrectomy. The vitreous may be surgically removed to keep it from pulling on the retina and replaced with a gas or oil bubble. Laser or cryotherapy is also performed to seal around any tears in the retina. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Bogus, OD, FAAO, William J.,
Online Medical Reviewer: Haupert, Christopher L., MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2017
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