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Retinal detachment, a condition where the retina is removed from its placement, is relatively painless. However, it can also impair the patient’s vision. When this condition is left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss. Experienced ophthalmologists such as Kang Zhang recommend three medical procedures that can place the affected retina to its original place and repair the damage before it escalates. They perform these surgeries depending on how the retina became detached.
If the vitreous gel is pulling the retinal tissue down, then the surgeon will use vitrectomy. During this process, he or she should remove the gel and replace it with a bubble made of gas or silicone oil. The bubble will flatten the retina back into place. After that, the gas bubble will be replaced by natural eye fluid or the surgeon must remove the oil bubble later. Air travel is not recommended, as the change in pressure can affect the eye.
During pneumatic retinopexy, the ophthalmologist will inject an air or gas bubble into the vitreous cavity, located in the center of the eye. This bubble can push the damaged retina back into the wall of the eye, also stopping the eye fluid from flowing. The specialist can use cryopexy or laser surgery to repair the damage, returning the retina to its place. The bubble and the extra fluid will reabsorb, with the patient needing to keep the head in a certain position for the next few days.
In the process known as scleral buckling, the surgeon can insert an item known as a scleral buckle to the eye. The scleral buckle is a small silicone band that the doctor attaches around the eye. This band can push against the force of the vitreous gel pushing the retina, allowing it to return to place. Sometimes, the fluid is also drained.
These different surgeries all reattach the retina, but use different methods depending on the situation. Patients tend to discuss the best treatment with their ophthalmologist.