There are 14 FAQ's in this section.
If I see floaters and flashing lights do I need to see my eye doctor?
Flashes and floaters are sometimes important signs that a retinal
problem such as a retinal tear or detachment is present.
Although flashes and floaters may not be serious, a retinal
examination must be performed to be sure.
What is the purpose of retinal detachment surgery?
When the retina is detached, it cannot work and vision is lost.
The purpose of the surgery for retinal detachment is to reattach
the retina. If the surgery is successful, the vision will
If pneumatic retinopexy does not work, may I then undergo the
scleral buckling procedure?
If pneumatic retinopexy fails to reattach the retina, the patient
usually can undergo a scleral buckling procedure.
Does the silicone scleral buckle ever need to be taken off?
Once a scleral buckle is sutured onto the wall (sclera) of the
eye, it stays in position forever. It may slightly change the
shape of the eye and, after the eye has healed, a new pair of
glsses may be necessary. On rare occasions, a scleral buckle
placed all the way around the eye may cause pain. If the pain is
severe and cannot be relieved with medicine, it may be necessary
to loosen or remove the buckle. Rarely, an infection may occur.
In such instances, the buckle must be removed from the eye. When
the buckle is removed, the retina usually remains attached, but
may detach. In most cases, however, the scleral buckle remains
against the eye forever and causes no serious problem. It cannot
be seen by others.
How is vitrectomy surgery performed?
The surgery may be performed using either general anesthesia or local anesthesia
depending on the particular case. Vitrectomy surgery is
performed through an operating microscope, which allows the
surgeon to look through the widely dilated pupil at the retina.
Small openings through the sclera are made in order to insert
vitrectomy instruments into the eye. A variety of instruments are
used, including a fiberoptic light which lights the inside of
the eye, and a variety of vitreous cutters, scissors, and
How long will the vitreous or retinal surgery take?
The length of the surgery depends on the type of problem you
have. If you have an epiretinal membrane or uncomplicated retinal
detachment, surgery may take less than an hour. However, if the
eye needs to have the lens removed, a scleral buckle placed, and
scar tissue removed from the eye, the surgery could take many
How long will I be in the hospital for my surgery?
You will be admitted to the hospital the day before the day of
surgery. Most patients are able to leave the hospital one or two
days after surgery. Occasionally, patients may leave the
hospital the same day, but sometimes a more lengthy stay may be
Are there risks to general anesthesia?
General anesthesia always carries a degree of risk. Minor risks
include postoperative nausea, vomiting, and hiccupping. Some
patients experience an upset stomach following surgery. If
nausea does develop, it can be controlled with medication.
Occasionally patients will experience some confusion and
prolonged sleeping. Very rarely, serious reactions occur that
result in liver failure, cardiac arrest, and even death.
Will my eye hurt after surgery?
You may note some discomfort around the eye, but severe pain is
unusual. Discomfort can be relieved with medication if
necessary. Your eye will remain swollen, red somewhat tender,
and uncomfortable for several weeks. You may also notice a
scratchy, foreign body sensation when opening or closing the eye.
This is caused by small stitches on the outside of the eye.
These stitches will gradually become soft and fall out, probably
withing two weeks.
What instructions must I follow when I go home after surgery?
The amount of physical acitvity that is allowed depends on the
type of surgery that you have had. Your surgeon will discuss
with you any restrictions. You will be asked to use some eye
medications when you go home. The purpose of the drops is to
prevent infection and make the eye more comfortable as it heals.
Will I see better right after surgery?
The vision following surgery depends on the type of surgery that
you have had. In general, it takes a long time for you to reach
your best vision. The vision in the eye will almost certainly be
blurry for many weeks. Your surgeon will discuss with you the
chances of visual recovery following your surgery and how much
vision you can hope to regain. It is important to realize that
recovery of vision following any type of retinal or vitreous
surgery takes a long time.
Why is postoperative head positioning important and how long must it continue?
Patients are asked to position themselves after surgery (usually
face down) if they have air, gas, or silicone oil in their eye.
These materials rise to the highest point in the eye. If there
have been retinal tears that have received laser or cryotherapy
during surgery, the air, gas, or oil can help keep the tear
closed, and the retina attached, while the laser or cryotherapy
takes hold. Occasionally, head positioning is used to allow blood
in the eye to settle away from the macula. The length of time
varies, and your surgeon will tell you when it is safe to stop
this special positioning.
Is it possible that I may not see after surgery?
Despite our increasing knowledge about retinal detachment and
vitreous disease, and despite the sophisticated technology that
we can bring to the operating room, we may find ourselves unable
to improve a patient's vision. The chance for blindness with
severe retinal disease is real. When considering surgery, the
patient and the doctor must weigh the risks, including the
possiblity of total blindness, against the possible benefits of
either stabilizing or improving vision. It is important for the
patient to know that surgery may fail due to complications, or
simply due to the progressive nature of the retinal disease.
Is there a time when an eye is too hopelessly damaged to consider surgery?
This is a difficult question. Whether to perform any surgery
depends on whether the patient feels that the benefit of the
surgery are worth the risks. This decision will be different for
every patient, since every patient's needs are different. If an
eye is badly damaged, there may not be much to gain with
surgery, and a patient might decide not to have surgery. If,
however, the patient has only one eye, then any vision that is
saved will be tremendously important. No two patients, and no
two retinal problems, are alike. Your surgeon will help you
understand what you can hope to gain with surgery, and what risk