Retinal Detachment Surgery Recovery

Retinal detachment surgery can prevent permanent vision loss if it is performed soon after the onset of symptoms. However, a healthy recovery is also vital to ensuring positive post-surgical outcomes. Your doctor can guide you through your retinal detachment surgery recovery, prescribing necessary medication and recommending lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of complications. With proper care, most patients can return to their normal activities within four weeks of surgery. However, the final results of your surgery will not be visible until months after your procedure. 

Recovery Timeline 

Surgery for retinal detachment is typically an outpatient procedure, allowing you to go home on the same day as your treatment. During the first few days after surgery, it is normal to experience: 

Man rubbing eyes
  • Mild discomfort, which can be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers 
  • Itchiness 
  • Sticky eyelids 
  • Blurred vision  
  • Redness 

It will take approximately two to four weeks for your retina to fully recover after surgery. During this time, your doctor will schedule regular visits to evaluate your progress. Many patients are not able to see clearly or drive following retinal detachment surgery, so it is important that you arrange for the appropriate time off of work if necessary.

Depending on the severity of your retinal detachment, it can take several months for your vision to improve after surgery. In general, the more severe the detachment or tear is, the less likely your vision is to return quickly. 

With proper aftercare, between 80 and 90 percent of retinal detachment surgeries are successful. 

Ensuring a Healthy Recovery 

Antibiotics, protective eyewear, and proper posture are important contributing factors for a healthy recovery:

  • Medication: Your doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops to reduce the risk of infection following surgery. 
  • Eye patch: You will be given an eye shield to protect your eye from rubbing or scratching. It is especially important that you wear this while you sleep. 
  • Positioning: If pneumatic retinopexy was used to reattach your retina, your doctor may instruct you to keep your head carefully positioned (face down, for example) for a certain amount of time. 

It is important to maintain realistic expectations during this time. If your retinal detachment resulted in vision loss, sometimes it can be restored with surgery. However, for some patients, vision loss can never be fully restored even if they have a smooth recovery. 

Habits and Activities to Avoid 

During the recovery period, there are several habits you should avoid to reduce the risk of infection or damage to your eye. These include: 

  • Strenuous activity: In addition to avoiding sudden movements, you should refrain from exercise and other activities which require moving the head, including gardening.
  • Man rubbing eyesRubbing or touching your eye: These actions can introduce harmful, infection-causing bacteria to your eye. 
  • Blood thinners: If you are taking medications such as blood thinners or aspirin, be sure to consult with your doctor.
  • Television and reading: Avoid these activities in excess, as they can strain your eyes.
  • Flying: If you were treated using pneumatic retinopexy, you should avoid flying as the change in air pressure can affect the bubble of gas which was placed in your eye. 

You can resume these actions and a full range of activities once your doctor gives you proper clearance. 

Find Out More

With proper aftercare, between 80 and 90 percent of retinal detachment surgeries are successful. Some patients may also need a second surgery to ensure the best results. If you experience symptoms such as sudden floaters and flashes after surgery, it may mean that your retinal detachment surgery was not effective. If this is the case, contact your doctor immediately to review your options. Schedule a consultation with an eye doctor to learn more about how you can ensure a healthy recovery following your surgery. 

Byron W. Biscoe, MD

Laser Vision Institute of the Virgin Islands

Byron W. Biscoe, MD, has been in practice since 1994. He is a member of a number of distinguished organizations:

  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Inc.
  • International Society of Refractive Surgery

Contact us online to ask a question or request a consultation. You can also reach us by phone at (340) 774-3003.

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