Retinal Detachment

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a retinal detachment?

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. There are three different types of retinal detachment, but a Rhegmatogenous [reg-ma-TAH-jenous] Detachment - in which a tear or break in the retina allows fluid to get under the retina and separate it from the overlying cell layer that nourishes it - is the most common.

The photos below show a normal retina (on the left) and a retinal detachment (on the right).  The retinal detachment in this case is a superior detachment which results in a visual defect of the inferior vision.

What causes a retinal detachment?

A retinal detachment occurs when a tear forms in the retina allowing fluid to get under the retina forming a detachment. They are more common in patients who are very near-sighted, have a family history of retinal detachment, and in eyes that have had prior trauma or eye surgery.

What are the symptoms of a retinal detachment?

Patients often complain of flashes, new floaters and a shadow forming in their vision when a retinal detachment occurs.

How is a retinal detachment treated?

In most cases, surgery is necessary to repair a detached retina. For minor detachments or tears of the retina, a simple procedure may be done in your doctor’s office, but if you have found yourself looking at this webpage you are probably going to have a vitrectomy, which is used for larger tears. This procedure involves anesthesia and is an outpatient procedure.

 

The vitreous gel, which is pulling on the retina, is removed from the eye and usually replaced with a gas bubble. Sometimes an oil bubble is used (instead of a gas bubble) to keep the retina in place. Your body’s own fluids will gradually replace a gas bubble. An oil bubble will need to be removed from the eye at a later date with another surgical procedure. Sometimes vitrectomy is combined with a scleral buckle. When a gas bubble is placed in your eye, your ophthalmologist will recommend that you keep your head in special positions for a time. 

 

How successful is this surgery?

The outlook depends on the severity of the condition and how quickly you get expert medical care. Some people will recover completely, especially if the macula isn’t damaged. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for clear vision and is located near the center of the retina. However, some people may not regain full vision. This can occur if the macula is damaged and treatment isn’t sought quickly enough.

 

Will I get at least partial benefit from the surgery if I can’t keep my head down?

The success of vitrectomy surgery using a gas bubble is highest when the bubble is positioned correctly over the retinal hole or tear where it can maintain constant gentle pressure. Your doctor will tell you what the optimal positioning will be in your particular case.  Our equipment is available to help you stay as comfortable as possible while maintaining correct positioning.

 

What can I expect after surgery?

While the bubble is at its full size your vision will be blurry. As the bubble dissipates over the weeks following surgery your vision will improve. It is not uncommon to have some discomfort and a scratchy feeling. Your doctor will advise you of the appropriate pain reducing techniques for you. Deep ache or throbbing pain that does not respond to Tylenol or other over the counter pain relievers should be reported to your doctor. Redness is common and will gradually lessen over time. You will be restricted from flying until the gas bubble has been completely resorbed. High elevations can cause the bubble to expand beyond a safe size and pressure for the health of the eye.

 

Insurance issues

Insurance policies vary greatly between and even within companies. Please note the following...

Medicare:

Unfortunately, Medicare considers Vitrectomy Support Equipment a convenience item and will not cover its costs.

Medicare Supplements:

Secondary insurances frequently follow Medicare in determining their own policies and therefor may not cover your costs either.  We will be happy to call your insurance and inquire for you.

Commercial insurances:

Commercial insurances vary in policy and again we are happy to call and obtain your benefit information for you and will begin any preauthorization process necessary.

Summary:

Although your insurance company may cover some or all of your equipment costs, Kelly Comfort Solutions will require prepayment by you for all rentals or purchases.  Any reimbursements received will be paid directly to you.  We caution you that preapproval is not always a guarantee of full payment and urge you to purchase or rent equipment which is within your means.