What is a Macular Hole?
A macular hole is a small opening in the very centre of the area of the retina called the macula. This hole can cause areas of vision to be ‘missing’ as well as blurring and distortion of your central vision. The condition does not lead to a total loss of vision and is not painful.
How does a Macular Hole occur?
Macular holes are commonly found in patients between 60 and 75 years old and are more common in females. As we age, the vitreous humour (the gel inside the eye) starts to liquefy and collapse, pulling on the retina and macula, in some patients, causing a hole.
What is the treatment for a Macular Hole?
The most common course of treatment is to have an operation called a Vitrectomy. During this procedure, the gel inside the eye is removed, the surface of the macula is peeled and an air or gas bubble is injected to encourage the macular hole to close.
Follow-up after treatment
To ensure the macula has the best chance of healing you may be asked to assume a face-down position (known as posturing) for 24 hours after surgery. This allows for the bubble of air or gas and the macular hole to maintain full contact.
Initially, the vision in your eye will be very poor. Approximately 7-15 days after the treatment the bubble starts to shrink and will be replaced by the natural fluid produced by your eye. In turn, your vision will start to improve.
Vision can take several months to improve to its maximum potential. Final vision can be dependent on how long the hole has been present and its size, amongst other factors. Therefore, early diagnosis is very important.
You must not fly or travel at high altitude or drive until the bubble has been sufficiently absorbed. The typical waiting time is 4 weeks.
- The hole fails to close – This can lead to worse vision than before surgery. It is, therefore, possible that the surgery may need to be repeated.
- Cataract formation – It is almost certain that a cataract will develop within 36 months of this operation. If a cataract is already present it can be removed at the same time.
- Retinal detachment – The retina can detach from the back of the eye resulting in complete vision loss. However, this can usually be repaired with a further procedure.
- Bleeding – This occurs very rarely and could cause complete loss of vision if severe enough.
- Infection –This occurs very rarely and would require urgent treatment. This can lead to complete and permanent loss of vision, if not treated.
- High pressure – If the pressure in the eye goes very high for a short period of time or goes slightly up for a prolonged period of time the optic nerve can be damaged resulting in partial or complete and permanent loss of vision.