If a tear of the retina has occurred, laser treatment or
cryotherapy, or both, may be used to seal the retinal tear in
order to prevent a retinal detachment from occurring. The laser
is a beam of light that turns to heat when it contacts the retina.
The laser light is directed through a special contact
lens. Cryotherapy (also called cryo) is a means of freezing
the part of the retina that needs to be treated. This is done
with a cryoprobe which is placed on the outside of the eye.
Both laser treatment and cryotherapy seal the retina to the back
wall of the eye by forming a scar. This scar, which takes
approximately 10 days to heal, forms a bond which seals the
retina around the retinal tear and prevents a detachment.
Sometimes a very small retinal detachment develops around a
retinal tear. Although surgery can be dome for a small retinal
detachment, frequently it is so small that either laser or
cryotherapy alone can be used to wall the detachment off. The
treatment prevents the detachment from getting bigger. The
retinal detachment, however, may break through the laser or
cryotherapy scar, so the patient must always be aware of the
possibility of developing a retinal detachment, which would be
experienced as a loss of peripheral vision. Your doctor may
suggest that you test your peripheral vision daily.
Both laser surgery and cryotherapy are done on an outpatient
basis. Patients may return to full activity, without
restrictions, in a short period of time. Vision may be blurred
for several days following laser or cryotherapy. If cryotherapy
is used to treat the retinal tear, the eye may be red for several