Retinal detachment surgery: Understanding the procedure

Written by: Top Doctors®
Edited by: Karolyn Judge

Retinal detachment surgery is a procedure performed to repair a detached retina, a serious eye condition that requires prompt medical attention. The surgery aims to reattach the retina to the back of the eye, restoring vision and preventing further vision loss.


In this comprehensive article, leading consultant ophthalmologist Mr Palpandian Viswanathan provides a detailed look at the procedure.

Eye after retinal detachment surgery

How is retinal detachment surgery performed?

Retinal detachment surgery is typically performed under local anaesthesia on an outpatient basis. The specific technique used depends on the type and severity of the retinal detachment. The main surgical procedures for retinal detachment include:

Scleral buckle

In this procedure, the surgeon places a small silicone band (scleral buckle) around the outside of the eye to gently push the sclera (the white part of the eye) inward. This helps to reduce tension on the retina and promote reattachment.



During a vitrectomy, the surgeon removes the vitreous gel from the middle of the eye to access the retina. Any scar tissue or debris pulling on the retina is carefully removed, and a gas bubble or silicone oil may be injected into the eye to hold the retina in place while it heals.


Pneumatic retinopexy

This procedure is performed in the office under local anaesthesia. A gas bubble is injected into the vitreous cavity, and the patient's head is positioned to allow the bubble to push against the detached retina and seal the tear. Laser or cryotherapy may be used to create scar tissue around the tear, sealing it and preventing further detachment.



What are the indications for retinal detachment surgery?

Retinal detachment surgery is recommended for individuals diagnosed with retinal detachment; a condition characterised by the separation of the retina from the underlying tissue. Symptoms of retinal detachment include sudden onset of floaters, flashes of light and a curtain-like shadow or loss of peripheral vision. Without prompt treatment, retinal detachment can lead to permanent vision loss.



What is the recovery process after retinal detachment surgery?

The recovery process after retinal detachment surgery varies depending on the type of procedure performed and the individual patient's condition. Patients are typically advised to avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for several weeks following surgery. Eye drops may be prescribed to prevent infection and reduce inflammation, and patients may need to wear an eye patch or shield to protect the eye as it heals.



Are there any risks or complications associated with retinal detachment surgery?

Like any surgical procedure, retinal detachment surgery carries some risks and potential complications. These may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Increased intraocular pressure
  • Recurrence of retinal detachment
  • Development of cataracts
  • Displacement of the scleral buckle or gas bubble

However, serious complications are rare, and most patients experience significant improvements in vision and retinal stability following surgery.




If you require retinal detachment surgery, arrange a consultation with Mr Viswanathan via his Top Doctors profile.


By Topdoctors

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