In the News: Savannah Guthrie’s Retinal Injury

Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie recently revealed that she suffered a retinal tear, a serious eye injury. Guthrie’s retina in her right eye became torn after her toddler son accidentally jabbed her in the eye with the end of a toy train. Guthrie underwent an emergency laser procedure after the incident and is continuing to receive laser treatments weeks later to repair her retina and restore full vision.

ReFocus Eye Health physician Betty Klein, M.D., is a retina specialist and has treated countless retina injuries in her 20+ years of practice. “Of course, accidents happen, but taking all necessary precautions to protect your eyes is so important when preserving your vision long-term,” says Dr. Klein. “Injury really can happen at any time, so I always educate my patients on signs of an eye emergency and knowing when a specialist is needed.”

What’s the “retina” and why is it important?

The retina is a thin membrane at the back of the eye that’s necessary for good vision. The eye is composed of light-sensitive cells connected with nerve fibers that allow light entering the eye to be converted to nerve impulses that reach the brain. The amount of light entering is controlled by the iris and is then passed to the retina.

What are the symptoms of a torn or detached retina?

  • “Floaters” or tiny black specks appearing to float around your field of vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Reduced peripheral vision

It’s important to note that a retinal tear or detachment can occur even without enduring trauma to the eye. While there are risk factors, like age or previous eye surgery, that may make retina issues more likely, there is no way to predict when a retinal tear or detachment may occur.

When is an eye injury an emergency?

If you suspect you may have a torn or detached retina, this is considered a medical emergency as you are at risk for permanently losing your vision.

If a foreign object (solid or liquid) comes into contact with your eye and causes pain, swelling, or change in vision, that is also considered an emergency.

What do I do if I think I’m having an eye emergency?

It’s critical to vision preservation to have any eye injury, especially those deemed an emergency, evaluated by a trained specialist as soon as possible. “If you suspect an eye injury has damaged your retina, get in to see your eye doctor right away,” says Dr. Klein. “Immediate treatment following a retinal injury helps improve the probability of saving your vision.”

How are damaged retinas treated?

Guthrie’s retina injury has been treated using multiple laser therapy sessions designed to heal the tear she sustained. Depending on a variety of factors, including the injury location and severity, there are several treatment options available for retina issues. Your eye doctor will recommend the best treatment for your case, whether it is laser therapy, surgery, or no treatment at all.