Seeking Care for Retinal Detachments
New floaters and flashes may be a sign of a retinal tear or detachment, especially if they suddenly increase in frequency or are accompanied by a dark curtain or any loss of vision. If you experience these symptoms or are at risk for retinal detachment due to nearsightedness, family history, genetic predisposition, a previous history of retinal detachment, a history of any eye surgery, or a serious eye injury, you need to be seen by an eye specialist immediately. Our subspecialty trained retina; doctors can quickly determine the severity of your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment.
Our retinal specialists are also experts in treating other common conditions, such as vitreomacular traction, which occurs when the vitreous gel in your eye becomes “stuck” to -- and, over time, pulls on -- your retina, leading to a macular hole. The resulting retinal swelling or break and decreased vision require advanced care from our subspecialists, who have additional training in retinal diseases.
Treatments for Retinal Detachments
A high-intensity beam of light energy is focused on the retina to weld together a retinal tear.
A freezing probe seals the retinal tear then secures the retina to the eye wall. This outpatient procedure is performed on the outside of the eye and can prevent a retinal hole or tear from progressing to a retinal detachment. Healing takes about one to two weeks.
During this office-based procedure, a gas bubble is injected into your eye. Your head and body are positioned so that the bubble pushes the retina back into position against the wall of the eye. The procedure is often followed by laser or cryotherapy, which seals off the retinal break. Maintaining the appropriate position in the days following the procedure secures the retina in its place and is important to the success of the procedure.
A flexible silicone band is sewn around the eye in the operating room to secure the retina in place. May be performed in combination with cryotherapy or laser surgery.
Surgically removes the vitreous gel -- the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of your eye behind the lens -- through tiny incisions. May be performed in combination with other retinal detachment procedures, as it gives your eye surgeon better access to the back of your eye. The vitreous gel will be replaced with fluid, gas, or oil bubble according to your eye’s specific needs.
Pioneers and Experts in Retinal Detachment Repair
Latest Advances in Retinal Imaging
We are one of the few centers in the U.S. to use optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging in the operating room. The technology allows us to visualize the layers of the eye with greater detail and identify subtleties and patterns that guide our treatment recommendations. Our researchers and doctors are pioneers in this intraoperative imaging technology. Also, out doctors are national leaders in using OCT and interpreting the results.
High-Volume Referral Center
As a result of our advanced training and skill in handling complex retinal detachments such as recurrent retinal detachments with proliferative vitreoretinopathy, we receive a high volume of referrals from other doctors. We are frequently called upon to help people who have recurrent retinal detachments or other complex problems following previous surgeries elsewhere.
Retinal Surgery Pioneers
The field of retinal surgery was pioneered at Duke by Robert Machemer, MD, the former chair of our ophthalmology department. Many of our senior surgeons trained under Dr. Machemer, who is widely considered to be the “father of vitreoretinal surgery.” Vitreoretinal refers to treatment of the retina, macula, and vitreous -- the gel and fluid that fill the eye.
Compassionate, Supportive Environment
We offer patient support services, including educational materials and programs, a low vision rehabilitation program, and a dedicated social worker to help you and your loved ones manage your condition and maximize your quality of life.