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by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Definition

This surgery repairs a detached retina in the eye. The retina is a light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye that receives images and sends them to the brain.

Detached Retina
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Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done to put the retina back into its proper position to try to restore vision.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Scarring of the retina
  • Injury to other structures in the eye
  • The retina detaches again

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team will meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Arranging a ride to and from surgery

Anesthesia

The doctor will give:

  • Local anesthesia—the area will be numbed
  • General anesthesia—you will be asleep

Description of Procedure

This surgery is done in one of three ways:

Scleral Buckle

A cut will be made in the outer layer of the eye. A scope will be used to view the retina. A tool will be used to seal the retina to the inner wall of the eye. A flexible band will be put in place around the outside of the eye to help the retina stay in place. Some fluid may be drained from the retina. Ointment will be put on the eye. The eye will be covered with a patch.

Pneumatic Retinopexy

A syringe may be used to remove fluid from inside the eye. A scope will be used to view the retina. A gas bubble will be injected near the retina. A tool will be used to seal the retina to the inner wall of the eye. Ointment will be put on the eye. The eye will be covered with a patch.

Vitrectomy

A cut will be made in the outer layer of the eye. The clear gel that fills the eye and any scar tissue will be removed. A scleral buckle or pneumatic retinopexy will be done to repair the retina. The clear gel will be replaced with another fluid. In some people, the cut may be closed with stitches. Ointment will be put on the eye. The eye will be covered with a patch.

How Long Will It Take?

1 to 4 hours

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and swelling are common in the first week. Medicine and home care can help.

Average Hospital Stay

Most people can go home the same day. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.

Post-Procedure Care

At the Hospital

Right after the procedure, the staff may give you pain medicine.

At Home

It will take about 2 to 4 weeks to heal. It will take 1 to 2 years for vision to become stable. You may need to keep your head in a certain position during healing. Physical activity will be limited during recovery. You will need to delay your return to work.

Problems to Look Out For

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or discharge from the eye
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Vision that worsens
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

American Optometric Association  https://www.aoa.org 

Eye Smart—American Academy of Ophthalmology  https://www.eyesmart.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Ophthalmological Society  http://www.cos-sco.ca 

Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

References

Detached retina. Eye Smart—American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/detached-torn-retina. Accessed April 21, 2022.

Retinal detachment. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/retinal-detachment. Accessed April 21, 2022.

Retinal detachment. National Eye Institute website. Available at: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/retinal-detachment. Accessed April 21, 2022.

Revision Information