Recovery time after detached retina surgery

Updated June 13, 2017

When the retina detaches from the back of the eye, it needs to be replaced surgically, usually during outpatient surgery. Pneumatic retinoplexy, vitrectomy, or scleral buckle placement may be used to repair retinal detachment.

Immediately After Surgery

You may be groggy right after surgery if general anaesthesia was used for vitrectomy or scleral buckle placement. Your eye will be covered with a plastic shield to protect it from injury. Pneumatic retinoplexy is an office procedure done under local anaesthesia.

First One to Two Weeks

If a pneumatic retinoplexy or vitrectomy with gas bubble was done, you'll need to position your head for a period of time as directed by your doctor. Scleral buckle requires no special positioning.


Retinal surgery can cause infection, high intraocular pressure, and cataract formation. Retinal detachment surgery can fail and need to be redone.

Resuming Normal Activities

Patients with a gas bubble can't travel in an aeroplane until it's completely absorbed, probably several months. Return to work depends on how quickly your vision improves; normal activities can usually be resumed within a week, except for heavy lifting.

Regaining Vision

Vision may never return to what it was before the detachment, especially if the macula was detached, according to the Mayo Clinic. Patients who weren't seen and treated promptly may not regain any vision.

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About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.