NYU Langone offers three surgical outpatient procedures to treat retinal detachment. Doctors determine the type of surgery needed based on several factors, including the location and size of the detachment and whether the person has had cataract surgery.
Scleral buckle is a common surgery used to treat retinal detachment. Doctors perform this outpatient procedure in the hospital using either local anesthesia with intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Your doctor discusses anesthesia options with you before surgery.
For this procedure, the doctor locates the retinal tear that has caused a detachment and treats it with laser photocoagulation or cryotherapy. The procedure causes scar tissue to form a seal between the retina and the layers underneath.
Your surgeon then takes a small silicone band and places it on the outside of the sclera, or the white of the eye. Your surgeon sews it to the eye to keep it in place. This material buckles—pushes in—the sclera towards the middle of the eye, enabling the retina to settle against the back of the eye. The buckle stays in your eye permanently.
The scleral buckle relieves the retinal pull causing the detachment. A special intraocular gas may be injected into the eye, creating a bubble that expands and pushes the retina against the back of the eye. Surgery usually lasts two hours.
During a vitrectomy, your doctor makes an incision in the sclera of the eye and inserts an instrument to remove the vitreous gel. After the vitreous is removed, your doctor may treat the retina with photocoagulation or cryotherapy to seal the tear. The surgeon then injects intraocular gas to replace the vitreous gel and to gently push the retina against the back of the eye.
As you heal, the gas is spontaneously absorbed and disappears within two to six weeks. Your eye produces fluid that eventually replaces the gas and fills the eye. Surgery typically lasts about two hours.
For certain locations of retinal detachment, our ophthalmologists may perform a pneumatic retinopexy. During this procedure, your doctor places numbing drops in your eye, then inserts a small needle and removes a small amount of fluid to soften the eye.
Your doctor then injects a small amount of intraocular gas into the vitreous. The gas lasts for several days and gently pushes the retina against the back of the eye. The goal is to reattach the retina. Your doctor then performs laser photocoagulation or cryotherapy to seal the retinal tear. This procedure takes about one hour.