The retina is the small, sensitive area at the back of the eyeball responsible for vision. It captures images and sends them to the brain, much like film in a camera. Due to thinning over time or a genetic predisposition, the retina can detach or pull away from the surrounding tissue. When this happens, blood flow to the retina can be cut off and permanent vision loss can occur. Surgery to reattach the retina, or retinal detachment repair, aligns the retina so it can heal in the correct position.
One procedure used to treat retinal detachment is called pneumatic retinopexy. In this procedure, a small bubble is injected into the eye to hold the retina in place and allow it to reattach. The patient lies face-down for several days after the procedure to help the retina heal. Other procedures make use of lasers or a cryoprobe, a tiny instrument that freezes tissue, to repair tears in the retina and stick it back into place. Sometimes a procedure called scleral buckling is used, where a tiny piece of silicone is attached to the eyeball. This creates an indent that relieves pressure on the retina and allows it to heal in the correct position.
Recovery from retinal detachment repair depends on the type of procedure used. You may go home right away, or have to stay in the hospital for a short time. In addition, you may be instructed to use eye drops or wear an eye patch for a few days. In general, recovering from retinal repair takes one to two weeks. During this time, you might experience soreness, swelling, or discharge from the eye. As your vision stabilizes, you should not drive a car or travel without checking with your doctor. Taking it easy for a short period of time can make all the difference when it comes to saving your vision.