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Retinal Detachment

By Kirk N. Gelatt, VMD, DACVO, Emeritus Distinguished Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida

Retinal detachment is being diagnosed more commonly and is an important cause of vision loss (either unilateral or bilateral). It is an important postoperative complication of cataract and lens surgery. Once retinal detachment is detected, immediate medical and/or surgical treatment can reduce the resultant retinal degeneration and facilitate restoration of vision. Contributing factors include breed (eg, Shih Tzu with vitreal syneresis), previous cataract or lens removal, trauma (dogs, horses, and cats), systemic hypertension (cats and dogs), and systemic mycoses (dogs and cats). History, complete ophthalmic and systemic examinations, CBC, blood chemistry profile, and other diagnostic tests are important to determine the underlying cause. Ophthalmoscopy, B-scan ultrasonography, electroretinography, and blood pressure measurement are important diagnostic tests for retinal detachment.

Exudative nonrhegmatogenous retinal detachments may resolve with resolution of the inflammatory or hemorrhagic intra- and subretinal exudates. Some retinal degeneration usually occurs, but vision may return. Retinal detachments secondary to Collie eye anomaly (see Inherited Retinopathies) may be treated successfully by diode laser photocoagulation of the surrounding normal retina. Repair of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments, characterized by retinal breaks (holes and tears), may be attempted using vitreoretinal techniques that are routine in people, including intraocular gases, silicone oil, scleral buckling, and laser or cryoretinopexy.

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