The retina, which is about 1 millimeter thick, is the delicate inner lining of the eye which is subject to a number of sight-threatening problems which affect millions of people. Dr. Croley explains it is like the film of a camera. You must have good film to take a good picture. If any part of the retina is damaged, it is likely that some degree of vision may be lost. Retinal Surgery can help prevent this type of vision loss.
Why would I need retinal surgery?
Three common problems of the retina are Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, Retinal Detachment and Retinal Tears. Any of these retinal problems can cause legal or total blindness. Fortunately, technology available today along with early detection can help save or even restore vision.
Most retinal holes and tears can be treated with laser surgery if they are found before the retina detaches. The laser helps bond the retina to the wall of the eye, preventing a retinal detachment. This type of retinal surgery usually takes just minutes.
When is Retinal Detachment Surgery needed?
If you have a detached retina, you’ll likely need surgery right away to raise the odds of saving your sight in that eye. This isn’t usually an optional procedure, as delaying any decision will likely lead to permanent damage to your vision.
If you only have a retinal hole or tear, but your retina has not detached, you may avoid surgery with the two methods discussed above, photocoagulation or cryopexy.
Are there any risks involved with Retinal Detachment Surgery?
These are surgical procedures, so there are some of the risks involved with any surgery, such as excessive bleeding or infection. Specific to retinal detachment surgery, these are the risks:
- Your vision may not be fully returned.
- The detached retina may not properly adhere, requiring further surgery.
- You may have an increase in intraocular pressure inside your eye, which can eventually damage the optic nerve.
What to expect during retina surgery
Retinal detachment and breaks can cause the layers of the retina to become detached from each other. Cryotherapy (freezing) may be done. After a local or topical anesthetic is applied, a freezing probe is applied to the surface of the eye over the point of break. The extreme cold penetrates to the retina and freezes only the area around the break. As the area heals scar tissue forms and attaches the retinal layers together. A flexible band called a Scleral Buckle may become necessary if the retina separates from the pigment layers. This procedure may require entering the hospital the day before or the day of the surgery.
To help attach the retinal later, the doctor would drain the fluid located under the detached retina. Then a silicone band would be partly or entirely wrapped around the eye to indent it slightly inward. This pushes the pigment later into contact with the retinal detachment. The band is held in place with nylon sutures and will remain there permanently. It would probably not be seen or felt. Your eye may remain patched for one to several days or you may just wear a shield for protection. Strenuous activity will be limited for several weeks.
How long does Retina Surgery usually take?
Laser treatment or cryopexy usually are short procedures taking just 20 to 30 minutes or so. Surgical reattachment of the retina takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
What should I expect of my vision after surgery?
Your vision may take many months to improve and in some cases it may never fully return. The more severe your detachment, the more likely you will have more permanent damage to your vision. Your vision will be blurry for a period of a couple weeks and possibly longer.
How long is recovery after Retinal Detachment Surgery?
Your recovery depends upon the method of surgery used. Each of the three procedures for a detached retina have different timelines, but the overall range for recovery is from two to six weeks.
- For pneumatic retinopexy, the recovery time is approximately three weeks. The most difficult part of this recovery is the need to maintain a specific head position for several days to keep the bubble in place long enough to repair the detachment.
- For scleral buckling, it is approximately two to four weeks. You’ll need antibiotic eyedrops to reduce the risk of infection, and you’ll likely wear an eye patch for a short period of time.
- For cryopexy, recovery is minimal. You will need to limit strenuous activity and lifting for 10-14 days.
During your consultation, we will discuss your recovery in detail.
What is recovery like after Retina Surgery?
Your recovery after retinal surgery with Dr. Croley varies depending, of course, on what he was treating. Recovery from laser photocoagulation for diabetic retinopathy is not difficult, usually only involving some blurred vision and slight discomfort. Full recovery can take a few weeks. Cryopexy does not involve a difficult recovery. With vitrectomies, where Dr. Croley removes the vitreous gel in the eye and replaces it with a gas bubble, patients have to remain in a face down position for a period of days to keep the bubble in place.
Depending upon your problem with your retina, Dr. Croley will discuss the surgery necessary and the recovery it will entail.
What should I avoid after Retinal Detachment Surgery?
You won’t be able to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a couple weeks. Also, anything that increases blood pressure to your face, such as bending down or strenuous exercise, needs to be avoided for that same timeframe. Most patients can return to work in 1-2 weeks, but if your job is overly physical, you’ll need to restrict those activities or else delay your return. As mentioned above, if we’ve placed a gas bubble to repair a detached retina, you won’t be able to sleep on your back until the bubble has dissipated. You also cannot fly or have dental work done in these situations as well.
Will I have sleeping restrictions after Retinal Surgery?
The only restrictions on sleep will come if we’ve placed a gas bubble into the vitreous space inside your eye to help flatten the retina back against the wall. In these cases, you must not sleep on your back, as this could allow the gas bubble to move away from the retina.
Otherwise, if we’ve used cryotherapy or placed a scleral buckle, there aren’t any restrictions on how you sleep.
Who should I contact for retina issues in Ocala, FL?
As with any surgical procedure, it is important that you understand the benefits as well as the risks involved. At Central Florida Eye Institute in Ocala, Dr. Croley and his staff will take the time to explain this eye condition to you. Early detection, education and treatment are vital to insure continued good vision. Understanding the condition and the importance of treatment and follow-up care is a shared responsibility.
Central Florida Eye Institute proudly serves the Ocala, Gainesville, Lady Lake, Leesburg, and Inverness, Florida area with retina surgery. To find out if retina surgery is right for you, call (352) 237-8400 or visit our Contact Us page to request a consultation today!