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HealthInfo Canterbury

Treating & reducing the risk of retinal detachment

If your retina has a tear in it but isn't fully detached, it may be possible to "glue" the retina back using laser or freezing therapy (cryotherapy). This may prevent a full retinal detachment. It's a simple procedure, and you don't need to stay in hospital after it, but you do need someone to drive you home.

If you have a full retinal detachment, then you're likely to need surgery to fix it, and you'll get the best results if it's done as soon as possible. For the surgery, you may have a local or general anaesthetic, and you may need to stay in hospital. You're most likely to have a vitrectomy operation, in which your surgeon uses a laser to help seal the retina and puts an air bubble in your eye to help stabilise the retina.

Your vision is likely to improve after your retina is re-attached, but it may not fully return.

Reducing the risk of retinal detachment

The best way to reduce your risk of retinal detachment is to have regular eye examinations. The New Zealand Association of Optometrists recommends healthy adults should have an eye examination every two to three years. After the age of 65 you should have them more often to make sure any sight-threatening conditions, such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are diagnosed and treated early.

If you have any eye problems, or are at risk of eye problems, then your eye specialist may advise you to have checks more often. If you have diabetes, you should check that you're part of the retinal screening programme.

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Written by Canterbury optometrists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Ophthalmology, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed November 2019.


Page reference: 139959

Review key: HIFFRT-139694