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Detachment of the retina: is there a risk of blindness after surgery?

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Detachment of the retina: is there a risk of blindness after surgery?

Retinal detachment is one of the most serious diseases affecting the eye and its surgical treatment is one of the most complex. Fortunately, this is a rare condition, with a prevalence of about one case per 10,000 inhabitants / year.

However, it represents a very significant health problem, because it is disabling for the people who are affected by it. This letter comes from a mother worried about her daughter’s loss of sight. The ophthalmologist answers Matteo Piovellapresident of the Italian Ophthalmological Society (Soi).

Request. Hi, my daughter 2 years ago she was operated on for the detachment of the retina, first with gas and after a month with silicone oil. After 5 months she had the silicone removed but to date after several visits for the always high blood pressure before her they told her that she could not see because of the fibrosis and then they told her that she will never see again. This is possible? Is there anything that can be done? Thanks Tiziana

Reply. It is impossible for a parent to give up when the loss of sight of their daughter is at stake. It is totally unacceptable. The first essential information concerns the involvement of one or two eyes. The second if the pathology is retinopathy of the premature baby which affects very young children who have used the incubator with high oxygen levels for prolonged times, under penalty of non-survival.

Unfortunately, this disease requires advanced technologies and specific experience to be able to diagnose and apply the indicated therapies. But this may often not be enough due to the aggressiveness and severity of the different stages compatible with carrying out the sophisticated therapy.

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It is fair to point out that surgery to treat a detached retina, especially in young children, is more difficult than in adults. Furthermore, retinal detachment surgery presents difficulties that are not comparable to that of, for example, cataract surgery.

The retina is a noble tissue similar to the brain so sensitive and perishable that it can be irreparably damaged even by the surgical maneuvers necessary for its repositioning in place. It is a highly organized tissue and can be damaged even when it is stretched at the level of the sclera to be able to weld definitively with the use of laser or silicone oil with the utmost care and attention.

80% of the operated patients have an average reduction in vision after surgery even in the presence of an attached retina, which inevitably suffers damage due to its characteristics of nervous tissue. This is to confirm that while applying the maximum possible especially when numerous interventions in sequence are necessary, as in this case, the result can be totally unsatisfactory especially in children.

In these cases, despite the pain and unacceptability of the situation, responsibility and attention are needed to focus on adequate care, even for the eye that cannot see, to control the pressure of the eye which must necessarily remain within the limits of regularity. In Italy, there are nearly three million people who are supported by only one eye to have adequate eyesight. And they usually manage to be fulfilled without penalties. Protect your child and her sight by regularly subjecting her throughout her life to the necessary checks indicated by the ophthalmologists who have operated on her with the utmost commitment and competence. Keep me informed.

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