Retinal Tear and Detachment Surgery


Some treatments for tears and detachments can be done in your doctor's office.  Depending on the type of damage, your doctor may use one or more procedures.  Afterward, be sure to follow all your doctor's instructions for recovery.


Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is a common treatment for retinal tears.  First, the eye may be numbed.  A laser beam is then directed into the eye.  Heat from the laser creates a series of small scars.  These seal the area around the tear.



Cryotherapy is another method for treating tears.  The eye is first numbed.  A freezing probe is then placed on the outside of the eye next to the tear.  This bonds the tissue together.


After Laser or Cryotherapy Treatment

After treatment, your eye may be red or irritated.  But you can often resume most activities within a short time.  In some cases, you will be asked to avoid strenuous exercise for a week or more.  While you're healing, take any prescribed medication, and avoid rubbing your eye.  Be sure to keep follow-up appointments with your doctor.


Pneumatic Retinopexy

After a tear is repaired with laser or cryotherapy, a detached retina may be repaired by filling the eye with a gas bubble.  As the gas expands, it pushes the retina back into place.  This treatment can be used only for certain kinds of detachments.

After Pneumatic Retinopexy

A patch may be placed over your eye.  You will need to keep your head in a stable position for at least several days.  Follow your doctor's instructions for proper head placement.  As you heal, the gas bubble will slowly be absorbed by your body.  Avoid air travel, large changes in elevation, and scuba diving until your doctor says it's safe.


Additional Treatments

For certain types of retinal damage, treatment is done at a hospital or surgery center.  Follow your doctor's instructions to prepare for surgery.


Scleral Buckling

A scleral buckle is a soft band made of silicone.  After a tear is treated with laser or cryotherapy, the band is put around part or all of the eye.  It is tightened to press the eye wall against the retina.  Afterward, the buckle remains in place and is not visible.



A vitrectomy removes most of the vitreous from the eye.  This is done to stop the vitreous from pulling on the retina.  The vitreous is replaced with a clear fluid, gas, or silicone oil.  Over time, fluid or gas is absorbed by your body.  If silicone oil is used, it is usually removed a few months after the procedure.


Preparing for Surgery

To prepare for surgery, follow your doctor's instructions.  Also be sure to:

  • Tell your doctor if you are taking any medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or blood thinners.
  • Arrange in advance for an adult family member or friend to give you a ride home.
  • Follow instructions for eating or drinking before surgery.