Avatar universal

Flying after Retina Laser surgery

Hello,  I just had emergency laser eye surgery for a torn retina. (Sunday, June 21st).  I have a schedule vacation for July 5th and will be flying (7 hour flight).  Will this be possible?  I do have a follow with my surgeon, however if the common census is " no way", then I will want to cancel and break the news to the grandchildren now rather than wait to the appointment.
9 Responses
Avatar universal
It depends on whether this surgery involved injecting a gas bubble, which some types of retinal surgery do, which is the major cause for concern regarding flying afterwards.  If you didn't have a gas bubble then I'd suggest giving specifics on the procedure, but that its likely either flying isn't restricted, or is only restricted for a few days (depending on how cautious the doctor is) during the initial healing.

.I've never dealt with that sort of surgery before myself, I've merely heard about the gas bubble concerns,  but out of curiosity I took a quick glance  and multiple sources  say to   wait until after your doctor looks and tells you  the bubble has gone before going to a much higher elevation or flying. That suggests that how quickly it the bubble is absorbed will vary with each case since most don't even give a ballpark range for  to how long it can take (perhaps fearing it will take longer than usual with someone and they'll fly without asking their doctor first). I was curious in case I need to deal with it someday how long it would keep me grounded, so I looked further and see   some links that did give a general time frame:

"Sometimes a gas bubble is used within the eye to help to seal the retina back onto the eyeball. You cannot fly until this has gone, and you would probably have to wait about six weeks."

"People with a gas bubble in the eye may not fly or go to high altitudes until the gas bubble dissolves. This most often happens within a few weeks."

"This gas bubble will go away within 4-8 weeks."

It may be that it'll go away faster in your case and they are being pessimistic so people don't fly too soon without checking with their doctor to confirm. It sounds like the question may be whether you need to change plans in advance, or if you can wait until the last minute to see if the doctor says the bubble has gone by then.
Please see my comment. Flying with a gas bubble is usually not a problem.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your quick response.  I don't think there is a gas bubble.  I will just wait till the follow up appointment.  I am certainly not going to do anything to jeopardize my eyesight.
Avatar universal
Naturally your surgeon is the authority on your case. I've had detachments repaired in both eyes (many surgical procedures and laser treatments) and the only times I could not fly were when gas was injected and a bubble was present. On those occasions a bright-colored band was placed on my wrist that stated the restriction, but never when laser alone was used.
I hope you have a wonderful trip!
Avatar universal
Thank you -- my follow up appointment can be a game changer if the repair was not successful.  Crossing my fingers!  Again, thank you.
Avatar universal
I hope everything is excellent at your follow-up.
For travel, especially overseas, I have often figured out ahead where I could get retinal help at my destination. Your surgeon could help with this, as well as tell you exactly what symptoms to pay close attention to. Best wishes.
Avatar universal
Interesting... no flying...
This implies that the vitreous cavity is somewhat air tight,
The bubble is injected to pressurize the retina.
So a lesser pressure outsde (the eywball) would seem to help?

Above.... just speculations.
Avatar universal
This explains it

Avatar universal
Still impressed with ability of the back of eye/vitreous to be gas tight.
If that be the case, anti-vegf shots (age related stuff...) that are injected into the vitreous eill transmit their pressure to the front of the eye.
Through the lens.
Then the aqueous drain has to reduce the pressure.
Just speculating...
Avatar universal
Commercial air planes are only pressurized to a maximum of 8,000 feet even though they flu much higher. Some smaller jest pressurize to 12,000 feet. A very simple calculation using the ideal gas law shows that in my case the bubble will only expand by 25% when pressurized to 8,000 feet. My gas bubble was installed in Pittsburgh so I sued that atmospheric pressure of that city as a base. After I showed the calculations to my ophthalmologist he completely agrees and their have been papers about this published. So it depends on how large the bubble is when you propose to fly. Mine was at the 50% level so it would expand to a maximum of 75% which is completely safe. The error people make is thinking when a plane flies to say 42,000 feet that is the pressure in the plane. It is not.
Calculations aside I would not advise a patient to fly til the surgeon signs off who can look in eye, eval size of bubble, record intraocular pressure.
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