Cryotherapy is a treatment for repairing retinal detachments and retinal tears by freezing the retina back into its correct position. Cryotherapy creates an adhesive scar that seals the retina against the back wall of the eye so that the detachment or tear can begin healing. This treatment is often recommended in cases when the detachment or tear cannot be reached by a laser, such as when there is a build up of fluids or the presence of a cataract or a vitreous hemorrhage.
Before this procedure begins, the eye is numbed with ananaestheticdrops or an injection. Next, asmall freezing probe is used immediately adjacent to where the retina is detached or torn. The surrounding area is then frozen in several places in order to seal the location of the retinal detachment or tear.Patients sometimes describe the sensation as being similar to having an “ice cream headache” or “brain freeze”, but the procedure is painless.
Cryotherapy is performed on an outpatient basis and takes approximately 15 to minutes to complete. It is recommended that patients be accompanied on the day of the procedure so that someone can ensure that they get home safely.
Recovery after Cryotherapy
After treatment, patients may feel a cold sensation, but this sensation will go away quickly. Eyesight may be slightly blurred for the first few days with an increased sensitivity to light, but these symptoms will subside naturally. It is normal for the treated eye to have noticeable redness or puffiness for the first 10 to 14days after undergoing cryotherapy.
Please contact your retinal specialist immediately if you develop any of these symptoms after cryotherapy:
- Loss of vision.
- Appearance of new floaters. These resemble small dark shapes that float across your frontal field of vision.
Since cryotherapy is a relatively non-invasive procedure for treating retinal detachments and retinal tears, patients tend to recover quite quickly. On average, the recovery period after cryotherapy is 10 days.