Retinal Detachment (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What are complications of surgery for a retinal detachment, and what is recovery like after retinal detachment surgery?

Discomfort, watering, redness, swelling, and itching of the affected eye are all common and may persist for some time after the operation. These symptoms are usually treated with eyedrops. Blurred vision may last for many months, and new glasses may need to be prescribed, because the scleral buckle changes the shape of the eye. The scleral buckle also can cause double vision (diplopia) by affecting one of the muscles that controls the movements of the eye. Other possible complications are elevated pressure in the eye (glaucoma), bleeding into the vitreous -- within the retina -- or behind the retina, clouding of the lens of the eye (cataract), or drooping of the eyelid (ptosis). Additionally, infection can occur around the scleral buckle or even more seriously within the eye (endophthalmitis). Occasionally, the buckle may need to be removed.

What are the results of surgery for a retinal detachment?

The surgical repair of retinal detachments is successful in about 80% of patients with a single procedure. With additional surgery, over 90% of retinas are reattached successfully. Several months may pass, however, before vision returns to its final level. The final outcome for vision depends on several factors. For example, if the macula was detached, central vision rarely will return to normal. Even if the macula was not detached, some vision may still be lost, although most will be regained. New holes, tears, or pulling may develop, leading to new retinal detachments. If a gas or air bubble was inserted in the eye during surgery, maintaining proper positioning of the head is also important in determining the final outcome. Close follow-up by an ophthalmologist, therefore, is required. Long-term studies have shown that even after preventive treatment of a retinal hole or tear, 5% to 14% of patients may develop new breaks in the retina, which could lead to a retinal detachment. Overall, however, repair of retinal detachments has made great strides in the past 20 years with the restoration of useful vision to many thousands of people.

Medically reviewed by John P. Keenan, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology


"Facts About Retinal Detachment." National Eye Institute. National Institutes of Health. Oct. 2009.

Erie, J. C., et al. "Risk of retinal detachment after cataract extraction, 1980-2004: a population-based study." 104 (2006): 167-175.

Johnson, Z., et al. "Tripe cycle audit of primary retinal detachment surgery." Eye 16.5 (2002): 513-518.

Lai, Timothy Y. Y. "Retinal Complications of High Myopia." The Hong Kong Medical Diary. Sept. 2007.

Manjunath, Varsha, et al. "Posterior Lattice Degeneration Characterized by Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography." Retina 31.3 (2011): 492-496.

Mitry, D., et al. "Surgical outsome and risk stratification for primary retinal detachment repair: results from the Scottish Retinal Detachment study." British Journal of Ophthalmology 96 (2012): 730-734.

Thelen, Ulrich, et al. "Outcome of surgery after macula-off retinal detachment -- results from MUSTARD, one of the largest databases on buckling surgery in Europe." Acta Ophthalmologica90.5 (2010): 481-486.

Medically reviewed by John P. Keenan, MD, Board Certified in Ophthalmology

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/22/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Retinal Detachment - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with retinal detachment.
Retinal Detachment - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with your retinal detachment?
Retinal Detachment - Treatment Question: What was your treatment for retinal detachment? Are you satisfied with the results?
Retinal Detachment - Surgery Question: Discuss your retinal detachment surgery and its results.
Retinal Detachment - Predisposing Eye Diseases Question: Did you have another eye disease that predisposed you to develop a detached retina? Please share your story.