There are many retina diseases. They affect the way you process visual information and lead to distorted or blurred vision. Some can cause blindness.
What is a retina disease?
A retina disease affects the thin tissue lining the back of your eye that is responsible for your vision. It causes eyesight symptoms such as seeing flashes and floaters, blurred or distorted vision, side vision defects or vision loss.
Common retinal diseases and disorders include:
• Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – when the centre of your retina, called the macular, begins to deteriorate and causes blurred central vision. There are two types of macular degeneration: wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration.
• Retinal tear – when the clear, gel-like substance in the centre of your eye (vitreous) shrinks, it pulls and tears your retina. Symptoms of this diabetic eye diseases often include floaters and flashing lights.
• Diabetic retinopathy – diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels inside your retina and may blur or distort vision. It is extremely important for diabetic patients to maintain the eye test schedule advised by their eye specialist, which will depend on the severity of the disease. Early detection and treatment can help prevent vision loss.
• Retinal detachment – occurs when a retinal tear allows fluid to flow under your retina causing the retina to lift away from the underlying tissue layers.
• Macular hole – development of a small defect in the macular due to abnormal traction between the retina and the vitreous, or an injury to your eye.
• Retinal vein occlusion – is a blockage in the vein of your eye that can cause swelling and haemorrhages (bleeding) and, can damage the cells of your retina and can affect your sight. Anti-VEGF injections and steroid injections are used to treat this condition.
Often patients with dry eyes also have unexplained, fluctuating and decreased vision and their consultant ophthalmologist will determine the reason for this change in vision.
What are the benefits of the retinal surgery?
The benefits of retinal disease surgery are that it stops or slows the retinal disease progression and preserves your vision. In some cases, vision may actually improve, especially if performed during the early stages of a retinal disease.
What does retinal surgery involve?
There are a number of retinal surgery procedures and your ophthalmologist will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your specific retinal disorder. They may perform an eye test before diagnosing your condition and recommending treatment.
Retinal surgery options include:
• Laser surgery – an effective outpatient procedure that repairs a retinal tear or hole. Your eye surgeon will use a laser to heat small precise points on your retina to create scarring that will bind to the underlying tissue.
• Photodynamic therapy (PDT) – also known as scatter laser photocoagulation, is used to shrink abnormal blood vessels that are bleeding or threatening to bleed into your eye. This treatment may help people with diabetic retinopathy.
• Freezing – cryopexy or cryotherapy. Your retina is frozen by applying a freezing probe to the external wall of your eye. Your frozen retina will then scar and attach to your eye wall.
• Pneumatic retinopexy - air or gas is injected into your eye to repair retinal detachment. It can be performed with freezing or PDT.
• Scleral buckling - a small piece of silicone material is sewn to your outside eye surface (sclera) to indent the sclera and reduce the force of the vitreous on your retina, for patients with retinal detachment. It can be used with other treatments.
• Vitrectomy – the gel-like fluid inside your eyes, called vitreous, is removed and air, gas or liquid is injected in to the space. It allows your ophthalmologist better access to your retina, or the back of your eye. It may also be performed if blood in your vitreous gel does not clear on its own. It can be used as part of your treatment if you have a retinal tear, a macular hole, diabetic retinopathy, eye infections, eye trauma or a retinal detachment.
• Injecting medicine - into the vitreous of your eye to treat wet macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or broken eye blood vessels.
• Retinal prosthesis – lens implantation of a retinal prosthesis may be performed if you have severe vision loss or blindness caused by retinal disease.
• Macular translocation – involves moving your macula to a healthier section of your eyeball.
• CentraSight – a telescope lens implant is surgically placed inside one eye to provide central vision in that eye and the other eye provides peripheral vision for end-stage AMD patients.
What conditions may lead to retinal surgery?
Many retina diseases may require retinal surgery. They include:
• Retinal tear – may require surgery. Immediate laser or freezing can decrease the chance of it progressing to a retinal detachment.
• Wet macular degeneration - anti‑VEGF injections are typically the first line of treatment for wet macular degeneration. However, wet AMD patients may be offered retinal surgeries such as laser photocoagulation or new techniques such as macular translocation and CentraSight.
• Advanced dry age-related macular degeneration - the CentraSight treatment programme may be recommended to improve your sight.
• Diabetic retinopathy – surgeries may include: vitrectomy, photodynamic therapy, laser treatments, and injecting medicine.
• Retinal detachment – may be treated with laser surgery, pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckling and vitrectomy.
Your ophthalmologist will recommend the most appropriate retinal surgery based on your retinal disease and its characteristics.
What is the cost of a retinal surgery?
If you decide to pay for your treatment, Ramsay offer an all-inclusive Total Care package, where a single one-off payment at a pre-agreed price, delivering direct access to all the treatment you need for complete reassurance. You can also spread the cost of your treatment with finance options available.
A retinal surgery may be covered by your medical insurance policy. We advise you to check directly with your insurance provider and get written confirmation before commencing treatment.
How soon will I recover after a retinal surgery?
Your recovery time will depend on the type of retinal surgery performed and your specific type of retinal disease.
For example, recovery time after retinal detachment surgery may take two to six weeks. During recovery your vision may be blurry and you may not be able to drive or return to work.
Retinal surgery with Ramsay Health Care
Ramsay Health Care has a wealth of expertise in treating retinal diseases, including macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, retinal detachment and macular holes.
Our skilled ophthalmologists can perform the relevant eye tests to diagnose your retinal disease. They use the latest eye surgery techniques and at some of our hospitals we perform cutting-edge surgeries such as macular translocation and CentraSight.
Our ophthalmologists will offer you the most appropriate treatment for your retinal disease to stop or slow down its progression and, protect or improve your vision.
Contact us to book your appointment.