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Retinal Detachment (cont.)

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What are complications of surgery for a retinal detachment, and what is recovery like after retinal detachment surgery?

Discomfort, watering, redness, swelling, and itching of the affected eye are all common and may persist for some time after the operation. These symptoms are usually treated with eyedrops. Blurred vision may last for many months, and new glasses may need to be prescribed, because the scleral buckle changes the shape of the eye. The scleral buckle also can cause double vision (diplopia) by affecting one of the muscles that controls the movements of the eye. Other possible complications are elevated pressure in the eye (glaucoma), bleeding into the vitreous -- within the retina -- or behind the retina, clouding of the lens of the eye (cataract), or drooping of the eyelid (ptosis). Additionally, infection can occur around the scleral buckle or even more seriously within the eye (endophthalmitis). Occasionally, the buckle may need to be removed.

What are the results of surgery for a retinal detachment?

The surgical repair of retinal detachments is successful in about 85% of patients with a single vitrectomy or scleral buckle procedure. With additional surgery, over 95% of retinas are reattached successfully. Several months may pass, however, before vision returns to its final level. The final outcome for vision depends on several factors. For example, if the macula was detached, central vision rarely will return to normal due to degenerative changes in the macula. The visual changes in this situation are similar to those seen with the much more common condition known as macular degeneration (age-related macular degeneration or ARMD). Even if the macula was not detached, some vision may still be lost, although most will be regained. New holes, tears, or pulling may develop, leading to new retinal detachments. There may be scarring due to subretinal fibrosis (development of scar tissue beneath the retina). If a gas or air bubble was inserted in the eye during surgery, maintaining proper positioning of the head is also important in determining the final outcome. The use of intraocular gas in phakic eyes (eyes containing the natural lens) is associated with high subsequent incidence of cataract. Close follow-up by an ophthalmologist, therefore, is required and visits will include slit lamp examination and dilated examination of the retina and vitreous. Because of increased risk of retinal detachment in the other eye, dilated examination of the non-operated eye will also be performed. Long-term studies have shown that even after preventive treatment of a retinal hole or tear, 5%-14% of patients may develop new breaks in the retina, which could lead to a retinal detachment. Overall, however, repair of retinal detachments has made great strides in the past 20 years with the restoration of useful vision to many thousands of people.


American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Posterior Vitreous Detachment, Retinal Breaks, and Lattice Degeneration PPP -- 2014." October 2014. <>.

"Facts About Retinal Detachment." National Eye Institute. National Institutes of Health. Oct. 2009.

Erie, J. C., et al. "Risk of retinal detachment after cataract extraction, 1980-2004: a population-based study." 104 (2006): 167-175.

Johnson, Z., et al. "Tripe cycle audit of primary retinal detachment surgery." Eye 16.5 (2002): 513-518.

Lai, Timothy Y. Y. "Retinal Complications of High Myopia." The Hong Kong Medical Diary. Sept. 2007.

Manjunath, Varsha, et al. "Posterior Lattice Degeneration Characterized by Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography." Retina 31.3 (2011): 492-496.

Mitry, D., et al. "Surgical outsome and risk stratification for primary retinal detachment repair: results from the Scottish Retinal Detachment study." British Journal of Ophthalmology 96 (2012): 730-734.

Thelen, Ulrich, et al. "Outcome of surgery after macula-off retinal detachment -- results from MUSTARD, one of the largest databases on buckling surgery in Europe." Acta Ophthalmologica 90.5 (2010): 481-486.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/13/2017


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