What to Expect After Your Retinal Detachment Surgery

The retina is the light-sensing membrane that captures and transmits images to the brain. Most retinal detachments experienced by individuals are originally caused by a small tear or hole in this sensitive retina wall. Often due to thinning of the retina or shrinking of the vitreous gel within the eye over time, retinal detachments cause vision loss that may become permanent if not treated quickly and effectively.  Often affecting those individuals who are middle-aged or older, retinal tears and detachments are most common in nearsighted individuals and those with a genetic predisposition.

Prompt treatment of a retinal detachment is vital to the prevention of permanent vision loss. Scleral buckling, pneumatic retinopexy and vitrectomies are the most common treatments of retinal detachment. These treatments help press the retina against the wall of the eye and hold the tissues in place so that they can heal. Surgical retinal reattachment surgery is conducted through a quick one-and-a-half to two-hour surgery.


Although every surgery comes with its risk of complications, most retinal detachments come with infrequent and treatable complications, which include: bleeding under the retina, cataracts, recurrence, or infection.

Going Home after Surgery

Retinal detachment surgery is normally followed by a short recovery at the hospital before returning home. Patients can often return to normal activity one to two weeks after surgery. Traveling should be avoided for some time, and increases in altitude should be avoided until cleared by the surgeon.

Pain and Eye Protection

After a retinal detachment surgery is performed the eye may be inflamed, sore, and swollen for some time. Although very little pain is expected after surgery, pain medications are often sent home with the patient to aid in post-surgical pain control. Eye drops and an eye patch may be necessary aftercare to keep the eye moist, sanitized, and protected. A shield may also be used to avoid accidental pressure on the eye during sleep. Follow-up visits will be scheduled for the day after surgery and again for regular checkups over the next two to three months depending on patient progress. Some discharge is expected during the healing process, but the eye should be monitored for unusual drainage.

Care will need to be taken when showering not to get soap in the eye. Some procedures require a gas bubble to be placed in the eye during surgery to help keep the retina pressed up against the inner wall of the eye. Patients may be asked to position their head facing down to aid in the effect of this pressure bubble. This positioning may be necessary for one to two weeks after surgery.


The first week after surgery should be reserved for rest and slow movement. Excessive close concentration or TV watching should be avoided to prevent eye strain and further discomfort. Some patients may experience sensitivity to light after surgery. Activity can often be resumed after a month, but heavy lifting over 20 pounds and strenuous activities should be avoided while the eye heals.

Driving should also be avoided until vision improves and stabilizes. Initial depth perception and field of view is compromised after surgery and care should be taken before patients get back behind the wheel. Sedentary jobs may be returned to between ten and fourteen days after surgery, but more active jobs should be cleared by the surgeon before resumed.


Surgical treatment for retinal detachment is successful in over 90 percent of cases. If the retinal reattachment is a success, the patient will have some degree of vision restored. Depending on the condition of the retina, a varying degree of reading and traveling vision may be restored, and oftentimes patients can expect a full recovery of their vision.

A period of healing is necessary after surgery before patients will begin to see an improvement in their vision. This improvement should be expected to begin two weeks after surgery, and within six weeks postoperative vision improvement should be complete. The retina may continue to heal for a year or more, and it may take months for vision to stabilize after surgery.

Retinal detachment procedures are highly successful, come with few complications, and are imminent when a detachment occurs to help restore vision before blindness becomes permanent. Recovery is quick and requires a short period of rest and care while the retina heals and vision improves.

Related posts:

  1. Using Vitrectomy Lenses and Scleral Buckling for Retinal Detachment Cases
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67 Responses to What to Expect After Your Retinal Detachment Surgery

  1. cettina amaira says:

    My husband had a macullar hole operation & after 2 months&2 weeks he had detachment operation,after a year they take the oil out of the eye ,is his vision is blair.do you think that his vision will come back.Thank you,please answer me.

  2. John Saxon says:

    Thanks for the helpful info. I had a vitrectomy about 3 weeks ago for a detached retina that went pretty well. My vision is wavy and blurry at long distance. Oddly it gets sharp at about arms length, but still quite wavy. Perhaps it will return to normal over time. No cataract as of yet, as far as I can tell.

    • AC says:

      Hi Saxon, I have same symptoms and wondered how you are ding now. Has the wavy vision got any better..? mine suddenly went wavy almost overnight about a 2 weeks ago and so far is not improving.

  3. Inger Knack says:

    But sometimes eye fatigue is a sign of an underlying condition that may need medical treatment. If eye fatigue persists despite taking simple precautions, see your doctor. This is especially important if your eye fatigue is associated with headaches or with eye -,:`

    Take a look at all of the most current blog post on our new web site http://healthmedicinebook.comag

  4. Jane Beene says:

    Can you safely fly 10 days after getting the gas bubble in your eye?

    • Monica Gatto says:

      no if you have a bubble in the eye you have to wait till it is gone

    • DD says:

      As the post says, cannot fly until cleared by doctor.
      Mine says not for 90 days minimum. Same for visiting
      Macchu Picchu or Tibet, avoid heights.

  5. Peter says:

    Thanks for the information. I’m three days post an emergency vitrectomy while in Paris on holiday, so while I had excellent care and treatment, it’s been difficult understanding all the information provided, as it has been in French, which I don’t understand well. Pain has been almost non- existent which has surprised me, although wearing a patch over my eye and having to be still cost of the time is tedious. Hoping for full recovery, but expect that it will take weeks to months.

  6. Patsy says:

    I Had surgary two weeks ago, i had a gus bubble put in. Everything seems to be going well but i feel like i have a contact lens flooting in my eye, is that the gas bubble and is it normal. Thank you

  7. aftab ahmad says:

    our new born nephew eyes haven’t lens in his eyes and the doctor says that he will not be able to see anything (will be blind). Do we fix lens in his eyes?

  8. Lincoln fish says:

    Its been 3 months since I had my surgery. A week after surgery the tear was opening up and my doc gave me two gas injections to hold the break down. My eye is still red and sometimes twitching occurs. Last check up revealed some fluid still exist. Hoping fluid will get absorbed eventually. Keeping fingers crossed. Any sharing of similar experiences would be welcomed. Thanks for the info which I found very useful.

    • Don says:

      It’s been 75 days since my gas bubble repaired retinal surgery. The bubble is almost gone, hoping in 2-3 days. My vision is still a little blurry, can’t read with that eye yet. All straight horizontal lines have waves in them that move back and forth with head movement. (edges of countertops, shower rods, etc) Is there anyone else that has these wavy distortions? Did they finally go away?

      • Maurice A. Feaster says:

        I had my surgery on 30 March 2016. I have the wavy lines also. From my exam pre-surgery I had limited upper vision. After my surgery I now also have limited perefial vision. I’m a die hard biker and have yet to get back on my bike. My vision is also blurry.

  9. Emily says:

    Hi , I had laser eye surgery yesterday as my retina was detaching. I was told this is not common for 37 year old female with no head injury or health problems. The doctor told me I would be able to drive today, but I still have blurred vision and don’t feel confident to drive. Can anyone tell me if they have had this procedure before , is this normal? How long should the blurred vision last ?

  10. Deborah Dills says:

    It’s only been 6 full days since my retinal detachment surgery was done. I am age 58, in good health, and woke up a week ago one day not able to see out of my left eye. I thought I had scratched my eye, slept, and put moisture drops in it thinking the black spot blocking my vision would go away, but didn’t .
    The trip 3 days later, with my eye in pain to the ER revealed the truth, and that was I had a detached retina and surgery would take place very soon before I would lose my vision.
    I was referral quickly from the ER doctor who did am ultra-sound of my eye to see why I had this “curtain” blocking my vision and then I was referred to a “Retinal Specialist” whose expert doctors booked me for surgery to insert a gas bubble into my eye to reattach it to the wall of my eye. Yesterday, 5 days later, the doctor who did the surgery confirmed the surgery worked, and my retina had reattached, but the gas bubble would stay in for many more weeks. My vision is blurry, and as I was told, I would feel a “gritty” sand feeling that is normal during the healing process.

    All I want is to be able to see again, to drive again, and to do the things I want to do, or start new projects. I am hopeful yet fearful too. When this first happened to me, I asked how did this happen? and What did I do to cause my retina to detach? The answer was I did nothing, and it happens, sometimes with age, or heredity or trauma, and at any age.

  11. palla sreekanth says:

    Last days before i had retinal detachment operation, please give me some tips to keep my eye safe & how to protect it. what kind of drops to use regular to avoid eye problems.

  12. Sue says:

    My gas bubble lasted 10 weeks. I am now able to fly. My sight is still very blurry though.

    • Susan says:

      I’m at seven weeks and still have a partial gas bubble. My vision, including peripheral is pretty good. However, some days my eye is very bloodshot, and at times I feel much discomfort around the eye area, eyebrow and hairline areas. Is this typical?

    • Giacomo says:

      Can I fly after 3 month of retina detachment operation

  13. David Adams says:

    My wife had a retinal detachment surgery last WEDNESDAY, and as I’m putting the drops in, I noticed a real dark bloody spot in her eye closer to her nose, is this normal? THX

  14. mary jane padil says:

    my sister is now blind caused by exudative retina detachment (left eye) and her right eye has ended glaucoma, also blind now and resulted to cataract after 3 avastin injection of left eye.

    how much if we go to retina surgery?
    how much for that cases above?

    we currently enjoy her to avoid depression.
    Doctors here in the Philippines recommended her
    blind schooling and told us no care treatment
    abotu this case.

    pls. help.

    my sister is only 30years old.

    thank you
    God bless.

    May i request complete info for the best surgeon.
    hospital address
    contact #
    email add
    patient’s care

    • Reaz says:

      You can go to Sankara Nethralaya Hospital. It is found in Chennai, India, treatment is very good good and cheap when compared to other hospitals.

    • jon says:

      if you still need the info i know a very good doctor in yokohama japan. he preformed 4 retina surgeries on my eyes and i had amazing recovery results.

  15. Kerry says:

    My rd surgery went very well and the recovery wasn’t unbearable. The hardest part of it all was not the surgery! It was lying completely dormant on my left side for seven days! Ouch. I Have some lingering shoulder pain due to that. Other than that, everything has healed and progressed normally. I would not hesitate to undergo the procedure again if needed. Of course, the skilled doctor can be thanked and credited for that. Next will come the cataract surgery to fix the affected lens. The miracles of modern medical science!

  16. Arthur C, says:

    had detach retina during cataract surgery five mounth ago i still have blury vision how long do you think this will last and will eye glasses bring this condition into focus thank you Art

  17. I had oil placed in my Rt. eye. Why would this be preferable to gas? Oil requires the second surgery to drain. A pain in the ass and eye and vision is real crappy. An extra co-pay, more hassle. I am 3 weeks post drainage. Can glasses bring my vision back close to normal?
    Thank you

  18. Iman says:

    My mother had a retinal detachment Almost more than 20 yrs ago she experienced sm loss of vision can that b repaird

  19. namdev says:

    Does anyone know that ,how long it take after retina reattached .my had reattached his eye retina and it has been 2 months and his vision did not improve it.thanks ..

  20. michael edwards5 says:

    How long after a vitrectomy should you wait before having your eyes tested for new glasses? Also how soon can you drive ?

  21. Deb recendez says:

    I had a vitrectomy on Feb 2, 2016 for two retinal tears. I am seeing wavy in the surgical eye. Hopefully this will resolve itself. Anyone having the same problem or any positive information?

    • Rita says:

      Hi, I had seven tears repaired in my left eye about last summer. My vision is back to normal except for some floaters. The retina surgeon also did laser surgery on my right eye because he saw that it was about to tear. He “zapped” most of the floaters away with a YAG laser last month. I’m hoping he can do another procedure in a few months to get rid of the rest of the floaters. I’m very greatful to be seeing at this point.

    • Jo-Anne says:

      Yes, I had retinal surgery two weeks ago and am having a wavy blurring light. The doctor does not see anythin unusual in my eye and I am wondering if this will eventually go away. It is extremely annoying

      • Chris says:

        I had my surgery June 23, 2016, 2weeks out. It feels like I am looking though a water bottle. How are you doing now

    • John Nelson says:

      I had Retinal detachment surgery with the gas bubble on 6/22/16 and the bubble disappeared on 7/9. I have distorted vision in the affected eye and can see objects quite clearly but not small font text. I wonder if my macular degeneration may be causing that because my Dr. could not inject medicine into my left eye as planned on Monday,June 22 because he knew that my eye surgery was to take place two days later.I have been getting injections in both eyes for three years to treat macular degeneration.

  22. Belinda says:

    I am in my 3rd day of recovery from gas bubble surgery. My appetite is back. Vision is very blurry. I can see light and some images with color. My eye is very swollen and red. Very sensitive to light. Improvements from yesterday.. yeah!!!! I faithfully do my drops as directed and resting. I will update later. Thank you

    • Jp says:

      I had a detached retina surgery four months ago .
      It took exactly 11 weeks for the gas bubble to disappear totally .
      My vision is blurred I have tried two different prescriptions for my eye,nothing has helped but what I am seeing now is certainly better than what could’ve been .
      I guess the best thing we can expect is for all of us to be patient and be thankful For the sight that we do have .

    • Belinda says:

      10 days into recovery from gas bubble surgery. There is a line across eye. I can see blurry above line but below nothing. But line is less than yesterday.

  23. D BOSE says:


  24. ddf says:

    I had gas bubble treatment for two months after cryoablation on two half moon retinal tears 10 months ago. At first I had fairly decent sight recovery, I thought, but it got blurry and out of focus. Now, trying to get glasses, I find that the retina surface has been malformed and a skin or film has apparently covered it making it impossible for a lens to help with the severe vision loss in the previous good eye. I know the problem but have to return to the retinologist to find out if there is a solution. Does anyone know what this condition is and is called? if so, what is the prognosis of a good outcome?

  25. Andy says:

    Hello, my partner has recently just had surgery for a partial detached retina, and at the moment is recuperating at home. My question is, we are planning a few days in Venice in April, by this time it will of been 5 weeks plus after her surgery. Will she be ok to fly and for us both to continue our plans?

  26. Yolanda says:

    Hello,I’m 35yr old female and had surgery on a retinal detachment about 2weeks ago my vision is OK for the most part but my eye is itching and very irrated. I try not to rubb it but its hard. Have anyone else experience this and what did you do? How long did your eye stay red?

  27. subhash says:

    my eye was operated first 28 jan 2016 buckling but not succesful due to catract,then done catract 11 fab and then done ratinal detachment
    surgery on 16th fab with gas bubble gas bubble gone after 10 days but vision is blurred and wavy. any one can tell when will wavy vision will be corrected

  28. Jane Padil says:

    i asked the retina specialist doctor to conduct vitrectomy, or gas bubble but he said “no”. as i noticed to these forum, it was conducted to them…. and there’s a little lights though blurred. how come these surgeries/ techniques not allowed to my sister’s exudative retina detachment, look what happened to my sister resulted to blindness. It’s hard to understand if without medical abstract, certificate. or lab test????

    Lord pls. help….

  29. Babylyn Sanchez-Dela Cruz says:

    Hi, i was only 14 years old when my right eye had retinal detachment. I never toldl anyone thinking it’s okey cause i still have one. After two years i told my mother for whatever reason.. They rushed going to doctor and all of them told us that it was too late.., and now i am 36, i underwent argon laser surgery for retinal detachment also of my left eye three months ago. And my left eye was saved from getting blind also. But lots of floaters appear and it was never gone.

  30. Renee says:

    I’m feeling just so sad for my boyfriend who ultimately has had cataract surgery about 5yrs ago then another surgery a yr ago to replace a lens that had come lose. Believed to be too much trauma to this eye he experienced a detached retina. Ultimately he chose the silicone to hold retina as he works very much…it was supposed to be 90 days before removing. He has now had the silicone for over 5months!!!!!He is in Constant Pain, unbelievable headaches,swollen red eye, inconsistent sleep. Has used more than 5 $150+ drops for healing, swelling etc…ALL seeming to give him an Ill reaction. So was put on oral Prednisone. ..giving him elevated aggression. He has had checkups and the Dr says never seen a reaction like his…his eye pressure has been up to 40, twice the normal LIMIT!! So they keep postponing his removal of silicone. He Works constantLY On His Phone, Goes AND Goes To Take CARE of his family. IS he pushing the eye to do this???? PLEASE HELP I’M SO SAD FOR ALL HIS PAIN HE IS EXPERIENCING. AND I EVEN WONDER IF HE COULD BE ALERGIC TO THE SILICONE??

  31. Susan says:

    Had my surgery seven weeks ago and still have a partial bubble remaining. The vision is quite good, even peripheral vision is fine. However, it is slightly bloodshot all the time, and some days very bloodshot. There is also, particularly late at night or during the night, a pain in the eyebrow and hairline areas around the he. Any similar situations and causes?

  32. krishnan says:

    wait wait wait wait after surgery (retinal attachment) for vision. Generally full vision will not take place even in a year. Go for acupuncture treatment . There is no other go for this solution

  33. Tombo says:

    First of all everything I read has confirmed that a detached retina should be operated on as soon as possibleI had a detached retina in left eye two years ago. The bozo staff that I had to go to waited four weeks for the operation to go in and reattach my retina. The surgeon ask me to follow up the next day, then in a week and then the third appointment in a month. My retina was detached again and again the allowed me go a month before the second shot. Then after a year I was still blind, so I went to a different doctor and he said he would go in and clean up the mess from all the scar tissue from being detached so long. So I scheduled the operation and the nxt day they called and said the idiots at the hospital would not accept my insurance. So them I had to go back to my original surgeon that was pesimistic always, that is why i wanted to go to another doc. She went through with a third operation. It has been over a year now and I am blind in my left eye. Our country is so backwards and nobody gives a darn! Most specialits will not take me because of my insurance, which should be illegal. Most Doctors are GREEDY AS HECK and they should not be permitted by law to turn away any patients or give preferential treatment to people with certain insurance carriers! I have had it with the snooty, bigotted and greedy doctors!

  34. Tom says:

    Call your surgeon, don’t trust strangers with such important issues.

  35. nesat kutay says:

    After plaque brachytherapy I had victectomy done because of retina detachement and hemorrage.Ilost vision.Can it be come back? From İstanbul,Turkey.

  36. Ron wilson says:

    I had retina attachment surgery and a cornea transplant on my left eye do to a stabbing. Its been a month and a still cant see out of it . The pain is vone and that’s good because i have read alot of stories where thw wye and to be taking out because people cant deal with the pain. My question is will the redbess go away and will it open wider because now its really low. Of course i would love to see out of it, but if i can’t i just want it to look normal!

  37. Ron wilson says:

    I had retina attachment surgery and a cornea transplant on my left eye do to a stabbing. Its been a month and a still cant see out of it . The pain is gone and that’s good because i have read alot of stories where the eye and to be taking out because people cant deal with the pain. My question is will the redness go away and will it open wider because now its really low. Of course i would love to see out of it, but if i can’t i just want it to look normal!

  38. Tanveer malim says:

    Today my gone through retina detachment surgery with silicon oil.before that doctors adapted procedure of simple surgery without oil.but vsion not restore,after that they recommended silicon oil filling.I want ask any one tell me is it OK to adopt procedure without silcon oil.and is silcon oil is successful procedures

  39. Belinda says:

    2 months 2 weeks after gas bubble surgery. Everything is well. Full vision back. I get eye fatigue easily. Healing but eye feels scratchy most of the time.

  40. Jason Heller says:

    So I had a lensectomy, scleral buckle, fluid gas exchange all separate surgeries I was 11-14 years of age for all this…I’m now 33 I have some vision has been the same for years now, wavy and blurry….which is fine because I’m glad they saved my eye….recently I’ve been getting floaters, which I haven’t had in years….anyone have any idea what could be causing floaters in my eye that’s been stable for 15+ years?….the retina reattached and healed nicely…I’m just worried cause I haven’t had floaters in such a long time and there hasn’t been any trauma to the eye like getting punched or anything

    • mary storey says:

      I have just has my third op on my right eye following full detachment and major tears 5 months ago. Hopefully this will be my final op(sclerol buckle & gas). I have been advised that despite the two previous ops (lazer + silicon light; lensectomy and silicon heavy followed by additional lazer treatment) retina may detach again and will need immediate surgery which will then mean permanent silicone. You need to get your eye checked out as floaters could be early sign of retinal damage. I am 56 years of age, no previous trauma or eye issues.

  41. I had retina detachment right eye almost a week ago. I had surgery in Saturday. Eye buckle and gas bubble. The surgeon had told me that I have surtures. When do they come out and wondering if I will be able to see again. Spring is here wondering if I will be able to enjoy it. Typical how long before I feel better with my eye? Comments and any advice for healing.

  42. Reaz says:

    I have learned by ophthalmologist that a vision due to a retinal detachment may not be restored fully even if the retina has been re-attached fully. Because an attached retina need food and oxygen from the body, and once they detached, they are deprived from these and became dead.

    A retinal detachment is URGENT, either surgical intervention is done today itself or latest by tomorrow.

    Most people with retinal problem believe that surgeon will be able to restore their lost vision but they are wrong, it is important to note once a vision is gone, it may not come back.

    Surgeon instead, try to save the remaining vision that the patient still have, that’s why we said the vision following an eye surgery must not be worst than it was before the surgery.

    Today million of people have not been able to get their eyesight restored fully but they must be encouraged for having been able to save the remaining that they have today, even an ambulatory view is a plus rather than a blind eye.

    I request high myopia patient (>-ve 6.00) to have a full retina examination on a regular basis, because you will know you have a retinal problem when you got vision impairment, and is usually too late.

  43. Richard says:

    I’m 66 years old and had my retina reattachment surgery on March 29. Had gone to my eye doctor for blurred vision. Saw her at 9:30 am. She had me drive myself to a near-by hospitaland they were waiting for me at the door. I was escorted through all of the check-in and pre-op procedures and they had me in the OR by noon. Recovery went well. Gas bubble just about gone now and at my last check-up (2 weeks ago)vision had returned to 20/15. Also got rid of some very annoying floaters that had developed.

    About a year ago I had cataract surgery. Corrected my 20/400+ eyes to 20/15 in the left and 20/20 in the right. So far, these eye surgeries have been the second best part of growing old.

  44. Joel says:

    Thank you very much for this article! All I really wanted to hear was that the healing may continue for a year or more and several months for vision to stabilize. I was getting worried because my retinologist said it would take two months for healing. I didn’t know if that included restoring my vision. Fact is that that I’m about 12 days approaching the second month since surgery and my left-eye vision has not improved despite check ups indicating that the grade in my left eye even improved!

  45. umer says:

    hi my father had retina detachent right eye surgery two weeks ago vision is clear to some extent but now he said my vision is not clear…………………….i want to know whats the reason for that from u……..what u suggested for that

  46. I’m 24 years old i have a retina detachment and i have my recovery for almost 6months but my eye is blurry how long can i fully recovery

  47. Micahel Flaum says:

    I have had retinal attachment surgery after my retina was partially severed in a rear end car accident. I had the surgery…or laser ” stitches” to reattach it on Feb 5, 2016. My eye is still scratchy and sore feelng… a lot of the time. sometimes it goes away for a few days then returns. I am frustrated. Had the doctor see me several times and says I am healing fine. Luckily my vision did not change…but in seeing that others have the same problem it is assuring. I read cold compresses help… cold water…and it does. Hopefully we all heal and can forget about it! Good luck all!

  48. Patricia says:

    Had retinal re-attachment surgery, gas bubble & sclera buckle 5 weeks ago. I’m a 55 yr old female in good health. Like many of you, I awoke one morning to the vision in the lower half of my left eye looking like it had jello in it, but nothing was there. Had no trauma, no idea what happened. 2 weeks face down was hell. Had all the normal symptoms, some pain, feeling like a tree limb was in my eye, extremely red, especially in the inner corner. Vision Started out looking like a lunar eclipse; gradually started seeing blurred colors on top of dark line and dark bubble underneath. Now the bubble is much smaller, at bottom of my eye, and I can see the world but extremely blurry. I’m an accountant, now working up to 6 hrs per day now, have to wear reading glasses (did before) with left eyeglass covered or it distorts my good eye’s vision. Eye gets tired easy, but seems to be improving a little each day. Appreciate reading everyone’s story, helps to know things are on par. Hoping bubble goes away & good vision returns soon!

  49. jon jenkins says:

    had scleral buckle 8 months ago – vision 8 months later horrible – i can see whats there as in like shapes colors and light but extremely blurry and wavy and at night driving right eye is pretty useless – doctors keep saying surgery went great eye is 100% healed – i guess sometimes your vision is just screwed – so i would say be thankful if you can at least see light and shapes after detatched retina surgery

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