Does my child need retinal detachment surgery?

What you are reading right now is a product of the retina converting the light into signals that can be interpreted in the brain. It is the part of the eye where the first step in the vision process takes place. It is a light-sensitive sensory membrane that lines the inner surface of the back of the eyeballs. It is composed of several layers, which contain specialized cells called photoreceptors.

For instance, as we look around, light from the things we are looking at enters the eye, and the photoreceptor cells then absorb the light focused by the cornea and lens and convert it into chemical and nervous signals that are transmitted through the optic nerve to the visual centers in the brain.

The electrical stimulation is obtained and interpreted within the specific areas of the brain to allow us to see and comprehend what we are seeing or in other words, these impulses are transformed into images and visual perceptions.


What is a retinal detachment?

A retinal detachment is a serious condition of the eye that involves the separation of the retina from its attachments to the underlying tissue within the eye, through which it prohibits the retina from receiving oxygen. Since the retina can’t work properly when this happens, you could have permanent vision loss of you don’t get it treated right away. A retinal detachment surgery is needed to restore circulation to the retina and preserve vision. Those who have retinal detachment may experience these symptoms:

  • Flashing lights in your (photopsia)
  • Eye floaters (floating spots in your vision)
  • Darkening of peripheral vision


Can children my child have retinal detachment?

In children under 18 years old, retinal detachment can also occur although it is very rare. The occurrence of retinal detachments in children is very low compared to adults. Only 3.2 – 6.6% of reported retinal detachments occur in children. The major cause of retinal detachment in children is eye trauma. In some cases however, retinal detachment in children can be caused by associated conditions such as myopia, and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). In very rare cases, retinal detachment in a child is caused by underlying health conditions such as uveitis (a form of eye inflammation) and Coats disease (abnormal development of blood vessels in the retina).

Does my child need retinal detachment surgery?

A retinal detachment surgery is an eye surgery that involves reattaching the retinal tissues back into its normal position and sealing any breaks and holes that it leaves behind.

Pediatric retinal detachment is usually addressed differently from adult retinal detachment. To know if your child needs surgery, a thorough eye examination will be conducted and it is up to the eye specialist to decide whether surgery is needed. Your child’s eye specialist will discuss with you the nature of the procedure as well as the associated risks so you can guide your child about the necessary steps to be undertaken to address his/her condition.

Surgery brings a certain risk especially in the young. And like any medical procedures, there’s no guarantee that it will be 100% successful. As a parent, you should be aware of this and weigh the benefits from the potential risks.


How is retinal detachment surgery performed?

Several forms of eye surgery exist to repair a detached retina. A simple tear in the retina may be treated with laser treatment or a freezing method called cryotherapy. Various forms of retinal detachment require surgery and may require varying degrees of anesthesia to complete the procedure.

Some operations may be required urgently based on the severity of your retinal detachment. For example, if the retina has just begun to detach, a procedure called pneumatic retinopexy can be performed to repair it.

  • Pneumatic retinopexy or a gas bubble placement is a retinal detachment repair procedure wherein the eye doctor administers a bubble of gas into the eye. Patients are then put in a position where the gas bubble is forced against the retinal cavity. To permanently seal the hole, the doctor uses a laser. This type of procedure is usually done in-clinic or as an outpatient procedure.

More advanced surgical procedures are required in severe forms of retinal detachments. The following procedures may include:

  • Scleral buckling is a method wherein a surgeon places a silicone or sponge on the white eye around the point of the retinal tear to indent the wall of the eye inward so that it meets the hole in the retina. The buckle is designed to heal the retinal detachment by moving the sclera against the retinal tear.


  • Vitrectomy is a procedure that utilizes very small devices inside the eye to release the tension on the retina. It is done to drain vitreous fluid that has become cloudy or bloody, or filled with floaters or clumps of tissue and allows the retina to move back into its proper position.




The retina is an integral part of the eye and is very essential to your child’s vision. It transforms the light gathered from the millions of photoreceptors inside it to allow us to see images and have visual experiences. Once it is disturbed or affected, there is a high possibility that it could lead to a permanent vision loss. Moreover, retinal detachments do not heal on their own so medical interventions are always highly recommended. Once your child exhibits the signs and symptoms of retinal detachment, you should schedule an eye check-up for him/her as soon as possible.


If you need an eye specialist here in Singapore, you can visit our clinic Asia Retina Eye Surgery Centre at #15-10 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road or you may call 6732 0007 to book an appointment. Our clinic specializes in the treatment and management of retinal problems and other diseases related to the eye. Feel free to reach out to us today so we can help you to better understand your child’s condition and guide you and your child in every step of the treatment process.


Asia Retina – Eye Specialist in Singapore
#15-10 The Paragon, 290 Orchard Rd,
Singapore 238859
+65 6732 0007

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