The retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye cavity. It is thin, light sensitive and necessary for good vision. However, tears can form in the retina, creating a risk for retinal detachment and vision loss. Retinal tears and holes are actually quite common, occurring in about 10% of the population.
In most cases, retinal tears happen spontaneously, but factors like trauma or previous eye surgery can also raise the risk. Retinal tears are not painful, and some people have no symptoms at all. This is why it’s important to see your eye doctor regularly, as they can identify a tear before it results in a detachment.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Retinal Tear?
Not everyone has symptoms of a retinal tear, but many people do. Here are the signs and symptoms of a potential retinal tear:
- Sudden onset of floaters that can look like specks, small dots or cobwebs
- Flashes of light (photopsia) that persist throughout the day
- Hazy or cloudy vision due to bleeding from the tear
- Fixed shadows or dark spots from the retina detaching
Treatments Available for Retinal Tears
If a retinal tear is diagnosed promptly, the prognosis is very good. Retinal tears are usually treated with laser or freezing procedures like cryotherapy. These treatments are generally very safe and performed in an outpatient setting.
During the procedure, topical or local anesthesia is used to keep you comfortable. The laser treatment creates spot-welding around the edges of the tear to eliminate the risk of further tearing. After the tear is treated, it’s important to monitor the eyes because another tear can happen.
It’s important to note that not all retinal tears require treatment. Low-risk tears that have no symptoms are often monitored. Sometimes, they treat themselves by developing an adhesion around the tear. If the tear worsens, however, your retina doctor will likely recommend treatment.
Retinal laser treatment is one of the easiest eye surgeries to recover from. You can resume your normal schedule and activities right away. Laser treatments have little impact on your vision. Also, because laser treatment is extremely precise, there’s a low risk for damaging nearby eye structures.
That said, once you develop a retinal tear, you are at a higher risk for developing separate tears in the future. To monitor your condition, see your ophthalmologist regularly. This way, if your eye doctor finds another tear, they can monitor it to ensure it doesn’t get worse.
If you believe you might have a retinal tear, contact an eye specialist immediately. Empire Retina Consultants provides acute care for retinal tears, as well as laser treatment and longer term care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.