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 What to Expect Right After Your Emergency Retinal Detachment Surgery

 What to Expect Right After Your Emergency Retinal Detachment Surgery

A retinal detachment is an emergency eye condition that occurs when the thin, light-sensing tissue (the retina) at the back of the eye pulls away from the tissue holding it in place. If you don’t treat it immediately, you could permanently lose your vision.

The expert team of ophthalmologists at Retina Specialists specializes in diagnosing and treating retinal detachments. If you need to have emergency retinal detachment surgery, here’s what you can expect following the procedure.

Retinal detachment mechanics and types

The retina is fed by blood vessels behind the tissue that deliver oxygen and other essential nutrients. If the retina detaches, that supply is no longer available, and the cells can die off. The longer the detachment goes untreated, the greater the risk of permanent vision loss.

Most retinal detachments arise from a blow to the head from a sports injury or car accident. Fortunately, they produce warning signs that may include one or all of the following:

If you experience any of these, call Retina Specialists ASAP for an emergency appointment.

Retinal detachment surgery

If you get prompt medical attention for your detachment, in most cases we can save your sight by performing one of two surgeries — or both.


Your ophthalmologist removes the vitreous (a clear gel present in the eye) that’s pulling on the retina and replaces it with a bubble of air, gas, or oil. The bubble pushes the retina back into place, giving it the opportunity to heal properly.

If your doctor uses an oil bubble, they remove it a few months later, after the retina has healed. If they use an air or gas bubble, you’ll have some restrictions on your activities. The “not to do” list includes scuba diving, traveling to high altitudes, or flying in a plane. The change in outside pressure for all of these causes the gas to expand, increasing your intraocular pressure and potentially causing more problems.

Scleral buckle

Your ophthalmologist may use a scleral buckle instead, or they may choose to do both procedures. With the buckle, they sew a band formed from rubber or soft plastic to the outside of your eyeball. Like the bubble, the buckle gently presses the eye inward towards the eye wall, allowing the retina to heal. They usually leave the buckle on permanently, but you won’t be able to see it, and it won’t interfere with your vision.

What to expect after your retinal surgery

If you’ve had a vitrectomy, you can expect your eye to be swollen, red, or tender for several weeks. You might experience some pain in your eye, and your vision may be blurry for a few days following the procedure. You’ll need 2-4 weeks before you can return to your normal activities, and your vision may remain blurry for some time after that.

Your doctor gives you aftercare instructions, but you may want to ask about things like when you can wash your hair and face again. You’ll need to be extremely careful not to get any soap or water in your eye, so you may want to stick with a face cloth to gently wash your face.

You may have to wear an eye patch or shield for a few days to aid in recovery and prevent accidents, and you should wear sunglasses during the day, as your eye will be sensitive to light. In addition, you’ll need to use eye drops for up to six weeks, until you’re completely healed.

If you’re experiencing any of the signs of a retinal detachment, call Retina Specialists ASAP at any of our five locations in and around Dallas, Texas, to schedule an emergency appointment with one of our ophthalmologists.

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