Tears of the retina can lead to a condition called retinal detachment where the retina separates from the back wall of the eye. This is a serious condition that requires urgent attention. People with moderate to high myopia, or had cataract surgery, accidental eye injuries or a family history of retinal detachment are at higher risk for this condition. Sometimes it occurs in middle age for no apparent reason following vitreous detachment and tears of the retina.
The symptoms are progressive loss of vision field that looks like a curtain or shadow blocking the vision. They may be preceded by floaters and flashes. Sometimes small detachments may have no symptoms.
Once the retina has detached it is usually not possible to treat with laser and surgery is required to reattach the retina. There are a few options for surgery and this depends on the nature and type of retinal detachment. It may take the form of injections of a gas bubble into the eye, tying a silicone band around the eyeball (scleral buckle operation) or a vitrectomy to remove the source of traction and filling the eye with gas or silicone oil.
The results of surgery for retinal detachment are generally good and the success rate ranges from 85% to 95%. However, in some cases the retina cannot be attached in one operation and further surgery may be required. In general, there will be recovery of vision but the final outcome varies from case to case.