Purpose. When a patient suffers a retinal detachment and surgery is delayed, it is known clinically that bilaterally patching the patient may allow the retina to partially reattach or "settle." Although this procedure has been performed since the 1860s, there is still debate as to how such a maneuver facilitates the reattachment of the retina. Methods. Finite element calculations using commercially available analysis software are used to elucidate the influence of reduction in eye movement caused by bilateral patching on the flow of subretinal fluid in a physical model of retinal detachment. Results. It was found that by coupling fluid mechanics with structural mechanics, a physically consistent explanation of increased retinal detachment with eye movements can be found in the case of traction on the retinal hole. Large eye movements increase vitreous traction and detachment forces on the edge of the retinal hole, creating a subretinal vacuum and facilitating increased subretinal fluid. Alternative models, in which intraocular fluid flow is redirected into the subretinal space, are not consistent with these simulations. Conclusions. The results of these simulations explain the physical principles behind bilateral patching and provide insight that can be used clinically. In particular, as is known clinically, bilateral patching may facilitate a decrease in the height of a retinal detachment. The results described here provide a description of a physical mechanism underlying this technique. The findings of this study may aid in deciding whether to bilaterally patch patients and in counseling patients on pre- and postoperative care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience