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Avatar universal

Are my headaches long term effect of scleral buckle?

In the last 6 months I have started getting unbearable pain that starts in my left eye socket (above/behind eyeball) and then becomes more painful. It seems like there might be pressure in my ear and/or sinus and in my head above my eye but the pain is primarily in the area of my eye.

I have been starting the "rule out" process of doctor appointments (opthamologist says everything looks okay, went to my primary, CT scan that found a mucousal polyp, E/N/T that said he felt sinuses were not the issue and referred me to a neurologist to research migraines, and allergy tests....haven't gotten to the neurologist or chiropractor yet...that's the next step).

I have now returned to researching long-term effects of retinal surgery and the scleral buckle to find out if it could be causing the headaches OR if the buckle or surgery could be a trigger for migraines. I had surgery in 2001 during which the gel was removed from my eye ball, laser was used to seal the retina repair (like push pins as described to me), and a scleral buckle was used to "squeeze" my eye ball (as described my the doctor). I also had a gas bubble in my eyeball to assist with the healing/sealing process. At a later date my opthamologist used more of the lazer procedure (push pins) while I was awake. Everything turned out okay I guess. I have an astigmatism due to the surgery but my eye sight hasn't changed much.

Finally...my question. Is there any coorelation between headaches/eye pain/migraines and the retina surgery that described or with a scleral buckle. I'm thinking long term effects. Any suggestions?
20 Responses
711220 tn?1251891127
Possible causes related to the surgery, none very likely:

1)   A scleral buckle can induce some myopia.  You mentioned astigmatism due to surgery-How much?  Anisometropia--difference in refraction between to eyes can cause eye strain, imbalance and headaches.  Doubt this is the cause since pain started 7+ years after surgery.

2)  Rarely, a scleral buckle, if it was 360 degrees, can cause pain from mild anterior segment ischemia.  There is usually redness and signs of inflammation in the front of the eye.  Also doubt this since it is an early postoperative complication.

3)  An infection of the scleral buckle can cause pain.  The eye is usually red.  Most scleral buckle infection occurs shortly after surgery.  It is possible to get infected much later due to a systemic septicemia from another area in the body.

4)  Erosion of the scleral buckle into the eye.  I have not seen this in over 30 years.  It occurred with older types of scleral buckles.

4)  It is fairly safe to remove a scleral buckle after 9 months to a year after surgery.

5)  It is unlikely that scleral buckle is causing the problem.

Also, rule out temporal arteritis--a blood test in most cases.

Avatar universal
Dr Oyakawa.
I experience a lot of eye pain and headache 6 months after the scleral buckle. Have you done this work before ?
If this is really caused by the buckle, how complicated is it to remove the buckle.
What can be the side effect ? How long it takes to recover.

Avatar universal
I'd also like to know too thanks
Avatar universal
I have been having these same types of issues.  I had a buckle placed on my right eye in 1991 along with tears being frozen.  My headaches start the same way, generating from my right eye at the site of the buckle then spreading to my temple on to a full blown headache.   I've seen optho, otpo and even neuro.  I've had a spinal, MRIs and CTs all negative.  I also have been told that the buckle is unlikely to cause pain however mine starts at the site.  

My mother just recently had Temporal Ateritis, and my symptoms and pains are totally different then hers.  So, while speculating Temporal Ateritis, we have a common procedure and common symptoms that are not the same as those associated with Temporal Arteritis.
i was told by the doctors assistant that i would have head aches,they come after bright lights or bright sun.i have lived with theses for years.a man came in there while i was there at the dr. office and was gonna get his removed because of the head aches.
Avatar universal
I had a scleral buckle for retinal detachment in 2006 and for at least a year or two afterwards, I would get intense headaches radiating from the bad eye. They dropped off so that I would only get them if I was straining my eyes or hadn't gotten enough sleep. Then, in 2012, I started getting headaches radiating from the same eye just about everyday starting in the afternoon. They lead to nausea if I don't close my eyes and block out all light for a while. I checked with my retina specialist, my ophthalmologist, and my primary care physician who all said my eye was fine and just offered me pain medication for the headaches. Still no answer about these new headaches but they sure are annoying.
Avatar universal
I had a scleral buckle OS in 2006.  You are not alone!  Every now and then, especially when strained or lack of sleep, my left eye would be sore.  It would even feel like its throbbing.  Without OTC pain meds, the pain would spread from my left eye to all throughout the left side of my head.  Migraines would occur once a month.  I never had it checked out since I figured it was from the buckle, but I am glad I am not the only one who experiences this.
Avatar universal
Wow. I think I just realized that people had been responding to my post from 2009! Thank you! The migraines and other issues with my left eye (scleral side) have not ceased. Migraine med works but I get them so often and only on the scleral side starting in my eye. All docs say it's un related OR that it's possible that the buckle takes up room causing pressure in that area this triggering pain and migraines. Optho said buckle could not be removed after this long as it is fixed to eyeball but they could cut out to see if that relieves pressure- though that risks causing another detachment. In the processes of elimination back in 2009 I had an MRI done and discovered a Dermoid Cyst (tumor) in my brain - all focus was turned to that except at the Mayo clinic. Mayo doc said cyst was not related to my migraines and eye pain and referred me to their opthomalogy dept but I was unable to go. However he also said if 2 specialists had already told me that it was unlikely that the Mayo Clinic opthamologist would tell me anything different.
Honestly I do feel that the pain and migraines are related either to the buckle OR to the eye surgery and procedure itself. We (doctors, medical practitioners, people) technically know little about the workings of the brain, nerves, and anything above the shoulders and how its all connected. Medicine and authority surgery are longitudinal studies of trial and error and experiment and people HAVE to be the experiment group. Scleral buckles were still fairly new when I had the surgery. Data on Long term effects was not yet available. I've been looking for research and journals that explore this topic to be informed and spread the knowledge. If anyone had info about this please share. It is sad knowing so many other people have to manage this kind of pain. I know that going blind was a risk of not addressing the retinal detachment but this constant pain, and what I think is associated pain and side effects, are crippling of my quality of life.
Avatar universal
I had scleral buckle and vitreous gel removed for retinal detachment April 2nd. Due to the trauma of the surgery a cataract immediately formed and 28 days later had cataract surgery. Two surgeries in one month. I have the same pain you refer to and was hoping it would go away once the eye was healed. Unfortunately as time goes by it's not better but worse. I have read  a lot about headache pain and nausea from scleral buckle with not one doctor taking this seriously or a cause. Not sure I get it. Love to be part of the group and continue to hear about your research.
Avatar universal
I have had migraine radiating light and then blindness panels and then pain in my buckled eye for 3 nights in a row now... has there been a study on on if the buckle can effect migraines??... they seem to go away after a while... but three nights in a row?  i think i need to have this checked out...right?
Avatar universal
3 nights in a row with these radiating weird lights coming from my buckled eye and then fuzzy blind panels of vision and subsequent pain... my buckle was done 7 years ago... should i go to an eye doc and ask about this?  
Avatar universal
In July 2014 I got a scleral buckle in my left eye and cryo in my right eye due to retinal detachment and retinal tears.

I had a constant tension type of headache which started immediately after the surgery so I just put this down to them playing about with my head, then bang 2 weeks after I've got excruciating constant headaches radiating from my left eye and at the base of my skull.
I am still off work as I cannot function properly and awaiting a brain scan. I feel my consultant is passing the buck as he is 'certain' the headaches have nothing to do with my eyes - been seen by optician, ophthalmologist, orthoptist and was being fobbed off by my GP until I refused to leave her room demanding she took me seriously and ran blood & urine tests to rule out other causes and a get referral to a neurologist.

I am positive the headaches are due to the surgery and I am at the end of my tether feeling that going blind would have been a better option!
Avatar universal
In July 2014, I had a retinal detachment and 10 tears in my right eye which lead to 6 surgeries so far….I have the buckle, had a gas bubble which was replaced by oil then two surgeries for scar tissue, oil taken out and severe cataract removed….Since the first surgery I have been complaining about a terrible heavy sensation and headache in that eye and that side of my head…
All 7 surgeons and eye doctors that I have seen says I need time to heal since I have had so many surgeries in so little time..I get that but this feeling in my head makes me nautious and feel miserable all the time. Although I do not have good vision in that eye, they say everything is healing nicely. But now I have a corneal abrasion which they think may be from the meds and they are working in that to clear it up…I can't stand this feeling anymore.
I was out of work 6 months due to complications and then again for a couple of weeks..I am back to work, but by the end of the day I wish I can rip the eye out of my head…Does anyone else feel like that? I don't know what doctor to go to next that will listen.
Avatar universal
I have had the same experience if this thread is still going.Been to allergists(no allergies),ENT,had CT and MRI -nothing showed,retinal specialist says it would not be fromscleral buckle or surgery  but this all began after the surgery as a pressure I could manage with antihistamine and decongestant. However, a year ago became throbbing, pulsating daily headache - went to neuro who says it could be migraine but rarely had even one headache a year and now they never quite go away! In my 60s when migraines unusual to start for first time.While weatther can affect it, exists even when nice.I believe it is a result of the scleral buckle and surgery on several tears I had some years ago now but eye doctor seems to dismiss this.And the pain and pressure get worse and worse.Can't be by accident that so many people are posting the exact same symptoms post surgery. Not sure where we go!
177275 tn?1511755244
Avatar universal
I am also having constant pain from the muscles around my eyes and am unable to work a full day due to the pain.  I have seen several eye physicians and have not gotten an answer.  I feel the pain is from eye strain since I have constant double vision.  The prisms in my glasses help but do not totally eliminate that problem.  Next step is Neuro Opthalmologist.  How am I suppose to pay the bills........Disability will only help if I am too blind to see the vision chart, they do not take into consideration other limitations of multiple eye problems.  I have had 9 surgeries.  Three virtrecromies in left eye, cataract surgery, sclera bucle. retina tears in both eyes and retina detachment in left eye.  How many physicians do I have to see before someone helps.
177275 tn?1511755244
Avatar universal
I had my first surgery May 14, 2016 with a buckle.  In the first two weeks, I had a headache so severe I would not have been surprised to have been told I had a stroke.  Tramadol was the pain killer I was on at that time.  I was told to just use OTC meds.  

June 16 I was again in surgery for a second detachment.  This time, the anesthesiologist and I got talking about pain.  He asked if I was in pain before surgery.  I said yes, now and since the last surgery a month ago.  He asked if I'd like a pain killer before surgery.  YES I replied.  He wrote a script for Gabapentin and I have had major, but not total, relief from headaches in the first week of this drug.  I am on a low does, just 100 mg three times a day.  This doc also worked in a pain center.    
177275 tn?1511755244
Avatar universal
Just a quick note to say hi! If you are still having headaches after scleral buckle I would suggest looking up Convergence Insufficiency. It was my answer to explain migraines, eye pain, double vision, etc... after my scleral buckle was put in place. A specialist trained in optometry and vision therapy is the only one who can diagnose it since it has only recently gained public recognition.

This can also explain depth perception issues and motion sickness or vertigo as well. It took me 2 years before I received my diagnosis and it is a very slow process to recovery but at least there is hope now.  

If you wish to talk about it, email me at ***@****
Hi I would like to contact you and ask how did you find your specialist that diagnosed you? I'm still trying to find answers for my eye pains due to the scleral buckle.
Avatar universal
First thing I want to say is that this thread has been my only hope for experiencing pain after a Scleral Buckle surgery. I have spent hours upon hours trying to search on why this pain even happens only to get frustrated when I find nothing on the matter. I’ve read through each response and feel the same frustration as everyone else since I have been told basically the same thing.

I had laser done in both my left and right eye twice from 2018-2019. My ophthalmologist had to reinforce the lasering she had done the first time since the liquid in my retinal tears kept expanding, which in turn made the tears bigger. Luckily for my right eye the liquid was contained and up to today it has flattened out the retina, which means there is no more liquid in there. However, in January 2020 when I went in after my six-month checkup, the retinal tears in my left eye had gotten worse. The liquid had almost tripled in size outside of the reinforced lasering. Up to that point I had never experienced pain in either eye.

In late January 2020 I had the buckle done in my left eye (I was 20). As the months passed, I only felt this sharp pain about two times in total (starting from April to June). When the pain started it felt as if someone were stabbing a very long needle all the way back through my eye each time I would look around. I was told from my ophthalmologist that my eye was just dry since there were only nerves on the surface of the eye and not in the back like how I described to her. Now look, I’ve had dry eyes since I was 15 (2015), I had to stop wearing contacts because of my dry eyes (I only wore contacts for about a year before having to switch back to glasses) and let me tell you that the pain I felt now is not due to dry eyes. But I decided to try more lubricants and ointments to keep my eyes more hydrated in hopes that maybe it was due to dry eyes.

In mid-June 2020 I had gotten severely sick and was nauseas all the time, I had heart palpitations and was sweating excessively. The first few days I thought I had the stomach flue or maybe food poisoning, but the symptoms did not go away. Later I found out that my thyroid was elevated past the normal amount it was supposed to be, and in early July the doctor prescribed me Levothyroxine to help level my thyroid. The medication worked and the symptoms had gone away only for new symptoms to appear due to the medication. I ended up having severe anxiety and daily panic attacks even if I was just at home. But the worst side affect was that the pains in my left eye increased and worsened.

In August 2020, the pain was a daily thing ranging from when I would wake up, to midday, or night and it would last for hours, if not the whole day. I couldn’t stand the pain; it had gotten worse from the first few times and I would have to drop whatever I was doing and just go lay down with my eyes closed. I literally felt terrible and would often cry because of the pure frustration I would have (I was taking two online courses during this time and finals were coming up and it was hard if not impossible to even study). I informed my ophthalmologist after about two weeks of dealing with the daily pain. That same day I had a new symptom of the pain. I started to get this popping on the deep inner part of my left eye. I could hear and physically feel the pop deep inside the eye. I decided to get it checked with her and my optometrist as well. My ophthalmologist didn’t see anything wrong; my buckle was perfect and the pressure in my eye was just fine, there was no inflammation as well. She recommended that I lower my screen time, but how? Because of COVID-19 I must take online courses with hours of lecture videos and assignments online.  My optometrist could not find anything wrong as well. He did note that the pain I described is not what typical patients with dry eyes feel. I tried migraine medication to see if it would help but it didn’t. I thought migraines could have been it, but the only symptom was the pain in the eye/eye muscle, no nausea or increased headaches, it was a different feeling from headaches/migraines. I would even take all sorts of pain killers to try to alleviate the pain but those didn’t work as well. I was lost and felt upset that no one could help me understand why I was feeling these pains in my left eye after I had the surgery done.

In September 2020 I was told to stop taking the medication since the side effects I was having were severe. I noticed about two weeks after, that the pain had stopped being a daily issue. Although now I get frequent pains and popping’s from time to time. I even noticed the muscle in my eye would feel extremely strained and usually when the pains would happen my eye would lag? That’s the best way I can describe it. I knew the left wasn’t in sync with the right eye when the pain would happen since double vision/dizziness would happen as well. During this time is when I found this thread which made me feel relieved to know I’m not the only one, but also upset that a lot of us have to deal with it with no answers.

I have also noticed what can trigger the eye pains sometimes for me. Usually if my dad is grilling something and there’s smoke in the air it triggers the lag and the pain starts, If the fireplace is on the heat from the fire (not the smoke) triggers the pain and lag, and if there’s too many things going on (for example being in large crowds, parties/family celebrations with loud music) anything that causes sensory overload will trigger the lag/pain.

It’s now January 2021 (I’m 21 now), I went to visit my ophthalmologist for a checkup. She told me the same thing, everything looks fine and that she doesn’t know why I have these pains. Removing the buckle is a bad idea since my retina has a high possibility of detaching. At this point I’ve come to accept (or at least trying to) that this is how the rest of my life will be. Dealing with the pain/strain/popping in my left eye.

I will be constantly monitoring this thread in case anyone else experiences these pains as well.
My email is Marye.***@****
Burnt Toast: First of all your symptoms are not that rare.  Retina detachment surgery, especially putting a scleral buckle around the eye is often brutal,  and each case is different so in responding to people, I can't  generalize like it is often possible with cataract/IOL surgery.   1. Eye muscle problems and droopy eyelid are extremely common after RD surgery with scleral buckle.  If this is a big problem suggest you see an Eye MD ophthalmologist that specializes in eye muscle (strabismus) problems.  Because most eye muscle problems occur in kids they are often called "pediatric ophthalmologists' but most do adults.  Retina surgeons can often refer you since double vision is so common in their practice.   2. Pain     this type of surgery can be brutal and pain often persists for the long term. the buckle goes around ciliary nerves which can generate pain.  The buckle and/or the sutures can cause pain.  You might discuss with your retina surgeon referral to a pain clinic. They can often use sensory blocks to help with the pain.   3. Your anxiety.  Don't take this the wrong way, I hope you are under the care of a psychiatrist. You need one. You might benefit from anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication. Or other techniques for dealing with a bad frame of mind like mindfulness, cognitive behavior therapy, meditation.      3. Your retina situation. It would not be a bad thing to consider a second opinion on your complaints with an independent retina surgeon.  I'm never offended if a patient wants a 2nd opinion, I try and anticipate a need for a second opinion and ask for one early in the cases I care for.     Those are some initial thoughts.  Hopefully you live in a large metropolitan area or within driving distance of one where other opinions might be available.
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