Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery if I Have A Retinal Hole or Tear?

In the past, Laser Eye Surgery treatment has been limited by technology, the severity of prescriptions, and the presence of other conditions and contraindications. Even today, up to 20% of patients may be turned away from some clinics after being found unsuitable for treatment. But this isn’t necessarily the case. The truth is, with the right expertise and experience, it is possible to treat up to 98% of patients – and that’s exactly what we do here at London Vision Clinic.

Of course, there are still some conditions that can affect your suitability for treatment – but can a retinal hole or tear prevent you from having Laser Eye Surgery?

What are Retinal Holes and Tears?

Retinal holes, also commonly known as macular holes, affect the thin layer at the back of the eye called the retina (the macula is the central part of the retina). This light-sensitive tissue is key to our vision as it sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain. Retinal holes are a type of retinal condition that are diagnosed as small breaks in the retina.

Furthermore, retinal holes and tears may cause further problems if fluid from the eye seeps behind the retina. This can cause the retina to separate from the wall of the eye – a condition known as retinal detachment.

Is there a difference between a retinal hole and a retinal tear?

Typically, as they are related to the ageing process, retinal holes and tears tend to appear in people over the age of 60. As we get older, the fibres in the eye’s vitreous – the fluid that fills the eye – begin to shrink.

This is a completely natural process, however, if these fibres are too firmly attached to the retina, they can tear the retinal tissue as they shrink, causing a retinal tear. This is known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Retinal tears may also occur as a result of trauma or due to the thinning or weakening of the retinal tissues.

The terms “retinal hole” and “retinal tear” are often used interchangeably, but there is a clinical difference. While retinal tears tend to develop due to PVD, retinal holes develop due to the progressive thinning of the retina.

What are the effects of a retinal hole/tear?

Retinal holes and tears don’t tend to immediately affect your vision, but depending on their severity and location, vision problems can become serious. For example, if the hole occurs on the macula – the part of the retina that facilitates focused, centralised vision – you will experience more significant visual impairment.

This can include blurred and distorted vision that can make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks such as reading, writing, and driving.

Retinal holes and tears may cause further problems if fluid from the eye seeps behind the retina. This can cause the retina to separate from the wall of the eye – a condition known as retinal detachment, which can lead to permanent vision loss. They also are associated with an increased risk of many retinal diseases.

Symptoms of retinal tears and holes can include a sudden onset of:

  • Black spots or “floaters
  • Blurred or fuzzy vision
  • Dark shadows in your peripheral (side) vision

If you experience any symptoms of a retinal hole or tear, it is important to seek professional advice and treatment as soon as possible.

Laser Eye Surgery cannot treat a retinal hole or tear. However, if you have the condition under control, then it may be able to help improve your vision.

Having Laser Eye Surgery with a retinal hole or tear

If you have recently experienced one of these problems, you should be receiving specific care and advice from your eye care professional to manage or treat it. If this is the case, you may be unsuitable for Laser Eye Surgery.

Mr Glenn Carp, expert Laser Eye Surgeon at London Vision Clinic explains:

A retinal tear is not a contraindication for Laser Eye Surgery. You can have surgery with this condition. However, if you have recently had this condition, you will need to follow the care and advice from your eye care professional.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, Laser Eye Surgery treatment can be suitable for the vast majority of patients – including those who have had a retinal/macular tear or hole. Of course, there are some conditions that can make patients unsuitable. Nonetheless, there may still be alternative treatments available.

If you have a retinal hole and are interested in having Laser Eye Surgery, your chances may be just as good as the next person. The only way to know for sure is to get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators or Book a consultation today.