Treating Retinal Tears and Detachments

Retinal tears and detachments are serious eye conditions that can lead to severe vision loss or blindness if not treated promptly. The retina – a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye – plays a crucial role in vision by converting light into neural signals that the brain interprets. When the retina tears or detaches, it is unable to function correctly, leading to vision problems. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for both retinal tears and detachments.  

Retinal Tears  

Retinal tears often precede detachments and occur when the vitreous gel inside the eye pulls away from the retina, creating a break in the tissue. Recognizing and treating a retinal tear early can prevent the progression to a detachment. Here’s an overview of the treatment options.  

Laser Photocoagulation  

Laser photocoagulation is a widely-used treatment for retinal tears. The procedure involves directing a laser beam through the pupil to the tear site. The laser burns around the tear, creating scar tissue that seals the retina to the underlying tissue, preventing fluid from flowing through the tear and detaching the retina.  


Cryopexy – also known as cryotherapy – is another treatment option where intense cold is applied to the tear. This causes a scar to form, which secures the retina to the eye wall, similar to laser photocoagulation. Cryopexy is typically used when laser treatment is not possible due to the location of the tear or other factors.  

Retinal Detachments  

Retinal detachments are more severe than tears and require immediate medical attention. They occur when the retina is pulled away from its normal position and, if left untreated, can result in permanent vision loss.  

Pneumatic Retinopexy  

Pneumatic retinopexy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure used for certain types of retinal detachments. A gas bubble is injected into the vitreous cavity of the eye, which then presses against the detachment, pushing the retina back into place. The patient must maintain a specific head position for several days to keep the bubble in the right position. Laser photocoagulation or cryopexy is then used to seal the retina to the back wall of the eye.  

Scleral Buckle  

The scleral buckle procedure involves placing a scleral buckle – a flexible band – around the eye to gently push the sclera (the white outer wall of the eye) toward the detached retina. This reduces the pulling or traction on the retina, allowing it to reattach to the eye wall. The buckle is usually left in place permanently and is not visible after surgery.  


A vitrectomy is a more involved surgery that may be recommended for severe or complicated retinal detachments. This procedure involves removing the vitreous gel to prevent it from pulling on the retina and replacing it with a gas bubble, sterile saline, or silicone oil to hold the retina in place.  

Ultimately, retinal tears and detachments are urgent eye conditions that require prompt treatment to preserve vision. Fortunately, there are several options available. The choice of treatment depends on the specific circumstances of the tear or detachment, and decisions should be made in close consultation with an eye care provider who specializes in retinal issues.  

Contact The Retina Specialists In WNY at ECVA 

Ensure your vision stays clear by addressing retinal tears or detachments promptly. If you have retina health concerns, taking action now can make all the difference in preserving your sight. Schedule your consultation with our specialists today and prioritize the health of your eyes.