Q:

What happens during surgery to repair a detached retina?

A:

Quick Answer

In a scleral buckling procedure, the physician seals the retinal tears by heating them with a laser or electric current or freezing them with a cryophobe, MedicineNet states. Scar tissue closes off the tears, and the physician sews a buckle to the eye’s outer wall to compress the detached tissues.

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Full Answer

A scleral buckle is made of plastic, silicone or sponge, and it is positioned toward the back of the eye, according to MedicineNet. After inducing tissue scarring and applying the buckle, doctors are able to drain out liquid buildup behind the retina, allowing the retina to lay flat against the eye's back wall. When necessary, the physician inflates an air or gas bubble inside the vitreous cavity, the fluid-filled space in front of the retina, to help the treated tears hold their shape during the scarring process.

In a pneumatic retinopexy procedure, the physician also uses a laser or cryophobe to close the tears, states the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Next, the doctor injects a gas bubble into the vitreous space and inflates it to move the detached retina back to its normal position. The patient holds a specific head position to promote healing, and the gas bubble eventually disappears on its own. A vitrectomy procedure involves inflation of the vitreous space with a gas or oil bubble, but the doctor initially drains the existing vitreous gel from the eye. The doctor may perform a second procedure to remove the oil bubble, and the eye naturally produces more vitreous gel over time.

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