Retinal breaks refer to both retinal tears and holes.  These are weaknesses occurring in the periphery of the retina and can cause retinal detachment by allowing fluid to gather under the retina.


What causes retinal breaks?

Holes can develop when a retina is thin, particularly in short-sighted patients or those with peripheral retinal degeneration. Retinal tears can happen during a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) and also as a result of trauma.

What are the symptoms?

A sudden increase in floaters or bright flashing lights are indications of a retinal tear.  However, a retinal hole does not cause any symptoms, unless related to a retinal detachment.

What treatment is available for a retinal break?

Typically, retinal holes do not require treatment but new retinal tears can cause retinal detachment so laser treatment is advised.

What’s involved in retinal tear laser surgery?

Firstly, drops are used to dilate the pupil and the eye is numbed with anaesthetic drops.  When seated at the laser, a temporary lens is held on the eye during treatment and you will notice some bright flashes of light.  The treatment takes a few minutes and is an outpatient procedure. If a retinal tear is at the periphery of the retina, the treatment may need to be performed while lying down.

If laser is not suitable, freezing techniques, performed in theatre may be recommended.

What is the recovery after treatment?

Usually, a couple of days rest is recommended as the eye heals but no specific aftercare is required.