The retina is the light-sensitive area lining the back of the eye that sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain where these signals become the images that we see. The inner eye is filled with a clear jelly-like substance called vitreous. As we age, the vitreous becomes less like jelly and more like liquid. Usually the vitreous is only loosely attached to the retina. So as the eye moves, the vitreous moves away from the retina without causing problems.
Sometimes though the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina. When the fluid passes through the tear and lifts the retina off the back of the eye, it is called a retinal detachment. Flashes of light or floaters can appear in the field of vision.
During pneumatic retinopexy, your eye surgeon will inject a gas bubble into the middle of your eyeball. Your head will be positioned to allow the gas bubble to float to the detached area of the retina and flatten it. The retinal tear is then sealed with either a freezing probe or a laser beam, either immediately or in a few days. This depends on the type and location of the tear.
During a vitrectomy, your ophthalmologist makes a tiny incision in the sclera or the white of the eye. A small instrument is placed into the eye to remove the vitreous gel. Once the vitreous is removed, your surgeon will inject a gas or silicone oil bubble in the eye to push the retina back against the wall of the eye. The tears in weak areas of the retina are then sealed with either a freezing probe or a laser treatment.
Retinal Cryopexy (Cryotherapy)
To repair a retinal tear with cryopexy, your eye surgeon uses a special probe that applies an intense cold energy to freeze the retina around the tear. This creates swelling that eventually becomes scar tissue. It is this scar tissue that seals the retina to the wall of the eye, helping to prevent the retina from detaching completely.
To repair a retinal tear with laser surgery, your ophthalmologist uses a laser to make small burns around the tear the procedure creates scars that seal the retina to the wall of the eye helping to prevent the retina from detaching completely.