Retinal detachment surgery

If you have a problem with your retina, surgery could help treat it.

What is a retinal detachment?

The retina is the inner layer at the back of your eye. The retina captures the light coming into your eye and sends this information to your brain. Sometimes the retina can peel off (detach), causing your vision to be blurred or a shadow to develop in your vision.

What are the benefits of surgery?

The aim is to prevent your vision from getting worse.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

 Sometimes the tear or hole can be treated without any surgery, using a laser or by freezing treatment.

What does the procedure involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible, including a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic that is injected around your eye to numb it. The operation usually takes 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Your surgeon can repair any tears or holes using a laser or by freezing treatment. Retinal detachment surgery can involve the following techniques.

  • Removing the jelly part of your eye and replacing it with air, gas or silicone oil to help keep the retina in place.
  • Stitching a small piece of silicone rubber (a buckle) onto the surface of your eye to press the wall of your eye inwards and keep the retina in place.

What complications can happen?

Like all surgical procedures, there are some complications that can be serious and can even cause death. Please bear in mind the general and specific complications regarding this type of operation

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Specific complications of this operation

  • Heavy bleeding inside your eye
  • Reduced vision
  • Raised pressure in your eye
  • The retina may become detached again
  • Double vision
  • Inflammation in your other eye

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the next day. Regular exercise should improve your long-term health. It is important to keep still for the first few days. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. Do not swim or lift anything heavy until you have checked with your surgeon.

Most people make a good recovery. Your surgeon will tell you if new glasses will improve your vision.


A retinal detachment is a common problem where the inner layer at the back of your eye peels off. Retinal detachment surgery should prevent your vision from getting worse. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337.


Author: Prof Anthony King MD FRCOphth

Illustrator: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All

Want to look at other treatments? or find it on the A-Z list.