Retina Surgery 101: What to Expect
For severe retinal conditions, retinal surgery is sometimes required to maintain or preserve a patient’s vision. Although ocular surgery may be necessary, it’s natural for patients to feel apprehensive about undergoing such a procedure. However, retinal surgery is typically scarier than it sounds. The most common types of retinal surgery are vitrectomy and scleral buckle.
In a vitrectomy procedure, the vitreous gel is removed from the eye. There are several reasons why this type of procedure may be recommended, including:
- The vitreous gel, which is normally clear, has become cloudy or opaque due to blood or debris
- The presence of cataract remnants in the eye following cataract surgery
- The vitreous gel itself is causing some kind of complication to the retina
- The presence of scar tissue on the retina
- The presence of macular holes or puckers
- There is a retinal tear or detachment that needs to be repaired
Vitrectomy procedures are typically performed on an out-patient basis under sterile conditions in either a hospital operating room or an ambulatory surgery center. Patients are given local anesthetics, sedatives, or general anesthesia to prevent them from feeling any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
Recovery from a vitrectomy generally takes up to a week but can sometimes take longer. It’s not uncommon for there to be some redness and irritation following the surgery, but this only temporary. During the first week of recovery, patients are prescribed antibiotic eye drops. In some cases, a mild steroid eyedrop may also be prescribed for the following first three weeks of recovery. Patients may also be given specific instructions on how to keep their heads positioned during recovery.
Scleral buckle surgery is a type of procedure that is used to repair retinal detachments. This procedure is often recommended in cases of posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), which is a condition in which the vitreous gel shrinks and diminish. PVD is a natural process of aging and often doesn’t cause any issues. However, sometimes, if the vitreous gel has adhered to the retina, it can pull the retina out of position as the vitreous shrinks, causing a retinal detachment.
The scleral buckle is a band or piece of silicone that helps to move the retina back into place by holding the white part of the eye, known as the sclera, against the retina. After a scleral buckle procedure has performed, patients are given specific instructions on care, including head position, medications, diet, and limitation of activities. Possible short-term side effects can include headaches, eye pain or discomfort, blurry vision, swelling, and bloody tears. As the eye recovers, these side effects should subside.
Although having retinal surgery can be intimidating, these sight-saving procedures are here to help ensure patients retain their most precious sense as much as possible. To learn more about retinal care, treatment, and surgery in the Long Island and New York City region, contact Vitreoretinal Consultants of NY today.