Avatar universal

Positive story about scleral buckle surgery

When I was first diagnosed with a retinal detachment and was discussing scleral buckle surgery with my doctor, I came to this forum to try and find more information to reassure me.  What I found was a disproportionate number of problem stories, and that caused me to second guess the decision to have the surgery.  I wanted to share my experience with the surgery to let people know that sometimes it does work out just fine and to give people a better idea of what to expect.

Please remember though, that I am not medically qualified in any way and that all decisions you make should be in consultation with your doctor.  This information is only meant to reassure people and offer insight, but not act as medical advice.  

I am young, fit, exercise regularly, and have always had excellent general health.  The detachment most likely occurred in Jan 2008 as a result of direct ocular trauma (punched in the eye).  Apart from some initial swelling and bruising, there were no symptoms of a serious problem.  The detachment was found in Nov 2008 during a routine eye exam.  The optician noticed pigmentation lines and told me that my retina was most likely torn and that I needed immediate medical attention.  She was surprised at my lack of sypmtoms (no floaters, flashes, or dark curtains), but insisted that I see someone as soon as possible.

The next day I went to a hospital where they had they equipment to properly diagnose me.  My retina was not torn, but a large section of it in the lower left periphery had detached in what is known as a retinal dialysis.  Mine was considered chronic, as it had been there for at least 3 months and was stable, as evidenced by the pigmentation lines and I suppose also my lack of symptoms.  In general I was considered a rather unusual case, but thankfully not a complicated one.  The macula was fine.  

That hospital referred me to a specialist eye hospital, where I met with the consultant who would be my surgeon, who confirmed that I had a retinal dialysis and then we discussed treatment options.  Even though I was asymptomatic, he explained that there was a 1% chance of it getting worse each year and that the risk increased again 1% for each additional year, so it would be better to treat it sooner than leave it until I had a much more serious problem.  Due to the location of the detachment, gas bubbles were not considered.  The surgeon told me that the best option would be to have part of a scleral buckle sewn over where my retina was detached and then cryo laser to re-enforce it.  The surgeon was a very likable doctor, explained things very well and answered all my questions.  I left the appointment feeling confident in his ability.

Because I  I kept going in and out of the country (against my surgeon's advice, but I had already committed to other things and took the risk) and was thus on and off the wait list several times, I ended up seeing my surgeon often, but did not have the surgery until July 14 2009.  While it was certainly risky, I did have the benefit of time to thoroughly research the procedure.  There is a wealth of information out there, including a youtube video of the surgery, although its not for the faint-hearted, but definitely gave me more of an idea of just how invasive this procedure is.  I would recommend doing some research in what time you have and if you can't, have a friend do it and get back to you so that you are more prepared and can ask the doctor more questions.

I was admitted to the hospital the evening of the 13th for my pre-op assessment and then stayed the night so that I would be available for surgery in the morning. Before my surgery, I met with the surgeon and anesthesiologist to go over the details one more time.  At this point I was more nervous about the anesthesia than the surgery and almost considered a local, but the anesthesiologist wasn't keen on it, so I went under general in the end.

When I woke from surgery I was groggy, had a horrible headache, my eye hurt a lot, and my throat hurt from the tube.  I was given a combo of paracetamol and ibuprofen.  After a few hours it became clear to me that that was not enough, and I asked for something stronger and they gave me something narcotic which made everything feel much better.  After a good nap and the last of the effects of the anesthesia wore off, I felt bad, but not horrible.  The pain was about a 4 or 5 on a scale of one to 10.  The eye was all bandanged up and covered in a bit of dried blood  and I could feel the stitches, which was really uncomfortable, as well as the throbbing type headache.  

I stayed that night in the hospital as well and in the morning, the nurse helped remove the bandage and showed me how to clean the eye and gave me some eye drops.  I was on three types of drops: Atropine to keep the eye dilated (2x a day), Maxidex to help with the swelling (4x day), and some sort of antibiotic that I don't remember the name of (4x day). At this point the pain is manageable.

My vision was horrible and very blurry in the operated eye.  It was much worse than before the surgery and on the drive (a friend picked me up.  I would not have been comfortable driving) home the lines in the road were doubling.  Nothing else appeared double, and this stopped after a few days.


Week One:  The eye is really really gross.  Its bright red all over, swollen, looks noticeably smaller than the other, oozing liquid, and when I wake up in the morning, it is crusted shut with a thick layer of eye goo.  Headaches are no picnic, but over the counter meds take care of them.  I do nothing this week except lay on the couch and watch tv and put in eye drops as required.  Vision is still terrible.

Week Two: Eye has 'dried out' and the ooziness is gone, but is replaced with an itchy dry feeling and the stitches are still annoying me.  The redness is getting better though and parts of the eye are returning to white.  Again, still taking it very easy.  I can use a computer for a short while (about half an hour), but can not read.  Pain is pretty much gone.

I had a check up at the end of two weeks and everything looked good.  Retina had reattached successfully.  At this point, I was taken off the Atropine, but continued to take the other two drops.

Week Three: Big spots of the eye have cleared up and stitches have dissolved.  Even though I stopped taking the Atropine, the eye is still dilated and non reactive, and vision is awful.

Week Four: Redness about the same as week three.  The effects of the atropine are wearing off and my vision is improving.  The eye no longer looks smaller than the other and the pupil is still a bit bigger than the other one, but is at least reacting at this point. All drops stop.

Week Five: Atropine has worn off and pupil is working normally.  Visions is almost the same as before the surgery.  I was myopic before and will need a slightly stronger prescription, but nothing major.  Redness is better and is more like visible vessels near where the buckle was put on, but the large patches of red are gone.  

Have another check-up and am given the all clear to return to life as normal.

I am now 3 and half months post op and life has returned to normal.  There is still some vestigial redness in the eye, which seems to be aggravated by my contact lenses, which I"ll ask about at my next appointment.  My vision seems to have settled and is slightly worse than before.  

So overall, the surgery was a success and went very well.  The recovery was not fun, but there were no complications and I was back on my feet in about 2 weeks and then back to normal life after about a month.

Again, this is not meant to be medical advice, but rather my own personal experience to offer insight to other people facing this procedure.  I just wanted you to know that while things to go wrong, it can also work out just fine.
19 Responses
Avatar universal
Thanks a lot for sharing with us your experiances,a lot of people will find this very useful.

By the way tell us bit more about that ocular trauma that lead you to surgery.
233488 tn?1310693103
Avatar universal
The ocular trauma was a result of a violent mugging.  The attacker punched me in the eye and then smashed my head against a wall on the left side, which is where the detachment occurred.  It was not so bad that I lost consciousness, but I was pretty banged up from it.  While there's no proof that this caused the detachment, it is the most logical explanation in my case.
Avatar universal
Sorry to hear your story.

Let God take care of him for doing this cruelty to you.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your post. I also have a successful buckle story, and I am pleased to see others. I am 5 months post op right now. You might consider allergies for the eye redness. My eye was quite red, particularily where they inserted the instruments (I had gas and other things besides just the buckle, but I didn't think much about it, since I figured it was still healing. A few weeks ago when I went to my optometrist, I asked her. She mentioned that she had given me allergy drops before -- I was thinking the daily Claritin was taking care of it. She gave me Padaday .. which makes my eye pretty and white -- and NON ITCHY!
Avatar universal
Glad to hear of the good result in your case. But why did you risk your vision by not having the detachment repaired right away? You were also lucky you had a good primary eye care provider. Wish I had seen her instead of the goof who told me to come back in a month. Unfortunately, I didn't make it before my retina detached.
Avatar universal
sounds just like my experience so far - currently approaching week 2 post op. Thanks - really helped to read this.
6926659 tn?1386147183
I'm at one week post op, the redness is disappearing, eye is returning to normal size. Mine was the result of extreme myopia and a scleral buckle was recommended as I had a retinal detachment and a small tear. We first tried the freezing and gas bubble but when that first tear healed, another popped up so no choice. Strangely enough, when I woke up after the operation, my eye hurt a little with a small but manageable head ache. My throat didn't hurt and was given passion orange juice to drink.  Overnight, face down then saw my doctor and was told I had two more tears after my initial first one.I took extra strength Tylenol for the first 5 days but have stopped after the pain and head ache went away. I feel well enough to work but will probably avoid any major head jarring movements as my other eye is at risk at well. Also, I'm not cleared for driving yet.  I'll look into swimming and walking instead of running and weights after I'm cleared to go back to normal activities.  All in all, mine was relatively painless and I was informed my retina is completely attached and the operation went well. I just have to worry and take care of my other eye but I think the grade on my other eye is less than 6 but there are signs of latice degeneration.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your story!! I am 24 years old and just had my scleral buckle done 4-5 days ago. The surgeon said it went great, I'm already healing up. I wanted to thank you for sharing this. Most stories I found were patients in their 40s, 50s, 60s. The comparison to someone who is in their mid-20s differs quite a bit and it's reassuring to read another young person's story with this surgery. I'm anxious to have my eye turn back to white, but I know how lucky and fortunate I am to have my sight! How long until you were able to drive? My sight is actually not bad, it's mostly blurry from the dilating drops I think. It's better than I expected though.

Avatar universal
Hello!  I don't drive much (live in a city with public transport) so its a bit hard to say.  After the eye drop that had dilated my pupil wore off, my vision was pretty much back to normal.  That may have been about 6 weeks after the surgery, although its been a while so hard to recall exactly!  I also needed an updated prescription (not by much though -2.75 to -3) but best check with your doctor first.
Avatar universal

Hope you are doing Fine, Thx for your
Story, trying to get support out of it.

I would appericiate it if u can answer
My following questions:

I had RD surgery 10 days back on my
Right eye, which was operated with
Cataract 1.5 yrs back and had 20/20
Distance vision in my right eye before
RD surgery

1. I am off from cyclopentolate  dialating
Drops 3 days back, was 4 times a Day, how
Long it took you to see better, can't see
Clear, seems fuzzy.

2. Until your visión stablized, how Did u handled,
Change in prescription, to go with your life, to
See better in the intérim.

3.Did u had expérience of irritating eye ? Did u do
Anything to help

Thx and Regards,

Avatar universal
Before I had my surgery and after, I was online looking for positive experiences of the scleral buckle. Instead, I was freaked out because of all the complications people had and wrote about. So here is my story.
On August 11, 2014, I underwent a scleral buckle surgery for a detached retina in my right eye. I noticed a curtain/shadow in the top corner of my peripheral vision and after a quick google search about a week later, I knew I should get it checked out. I was diagnosed and operated on within 5 days. I was very scared for the surgery, especially when they tell you what the complications could be. I'm 28 years old and I don't fall into the demographic of who this happens to. It was a spontaneous detachment. The procedure took about 40-45 minutes. I was heavily sedated during it; I would knock out and then come to every so often. I couldn't see what they were doing but I could hear them. After it was over, they sent me home about 30 minutes later and instructed me to lay on my left for 5 days so the gas bubble could go to work and flatten the retina. I wasn't in too much pain following the procedure. I was prescribed tylenol 3 for the pain but I only took 2 and continued with extra strength tylenol when I needed it. The next morning, I went back to the surgeon so he could remove the cover. My eye was very swollen and blurry but I was relieved to actually see whatever I could. The next few days were tough having to stay on my left. I was very dependent on my family during this time. I needed help to even put in the series of eye drops. About a week later, the swelling started to lift a little everyday. The gas bubble was very present still and covered about 50% of my vision. Another follow-up at the doctors and he confirmed the retina had healed and flattened. I kept my eye closed a lot because it was just easier, especially with the brightness during the day. 3 weeks later, I was allowed to start driving and wear makeup, but no contacts since the bubble was still there. I went back to work at the 4 week mark. The computer screen was a little difficult to get used to again and the depth perception to read or see the keyboard was also challenging because of the gas bubble. My eye was still a little swollen and smaller and not as white as my left eye. At my 2 month follow-up, everything looked good and he told me the gas bubble would be gone in the next week or 2. It started to break up into many small bubbles and then merge back and split again. Unfortunately, it took my exactly 13 weeks to lose the bubble. The day I noticed it was gone, I made an appointment with my optometrist to get a new prescription and went and got new contacts! My prescription changed but not by too much. The astigmatism changed because the shape of my eye has changed with the buckle. I just needed a prescription to sharpen my vision.
All in all, it was a long recovery but with a successful outcome. I plan on having check ups every 6 months for peace of mind. It's an invasive surgery and it ***** to have to go through; but with patience and support, you will be fine...and you will continue to have the gift of sight.
Avatar universal
Thanks, everybody, for all of the positive comments !  I had vitrectomy with bubble and the buckle 2 1/2 months ago, and although it has gone well, I still have great anxiety about total recovery !  I am due for my 3 month exam next week, where I will get a new prescription, but I'd say, even though I am having a full but somewhat blurry field of vision in the eye, it still feels somewhat "foreign" to me - hope that feeling will go away soon !

Again, thanks to everyone who posted here !
177275 tn?1511755244
Avatar universal
Thank you everyone for sharing your experience. I am also 28 years old and had the Scleral buckle procedure done. My retina detachment was caused from being severely nearsighted which I had corrected about 5 years ago with LASIK (but the shape of the eye remains the same). I had the surgery done 11 weeks and 4 days ago. My eyesight is a bit blurry and it's still a little red with some noticeable scar tissue. The question I have is how long does it take until the eye goes back to looking normal? Does it or is my eye scared forever? I know when I did  LASIK the glare from my eyesight didn't go away for about a year, so I'm hoping it's just taking awhile for my eye to be normal again. Any input here will be sooooooo helpful and will ease my mind. Thank you again!!!

177275 tn?1511755244
There is an enormous difference in types of RD. From a tiny section of the peripheral retina being detached to the entire retina being detached. So one cannot generalize about how much recover will occur. The prognosis is much better if the reading spot was not detached "RD with macula on" than "RE with macula off"

Many eyes do not recover normal vision even though the retina is successfully re-attached. It may take 6-12 months before you know how much recovery will occur.

Remember your other eye is at high risk of RD. Be sure to have it check regularly and get in immediately with increase floaters, flashes or loss of peripheral vision

Avatar universal
I just had my six week follow up with my surgeon and he said the retina is perfectly flat...all is great. I am posting my story in hopes it will help someone else going through this experience.  I noticed floaters and flashes and thanks to my nurse friends was advised to have checked out immediately.  Turned out to be a detached retina and had surgery to put in a scalar buckle.  The surgery was fine...have a twitch in my eye so had to be put under a general anesthesia.  The first night I had a patch on my eye but not too uncomfortable.  I took the pre op nurses advice and took pain pills as soon as I noticed the freezing wearing off.  That was the only time I took the prescription pain pills and was fine with Tylenol or Advil after that.  The first two weeks were tough as vision was very blurry and was concerned about having floaters and flashes. Once I understood this in normal I was able to stop worrying as much. Audio books were great during this time to keep my mind occupied.  After two weeks I stopped the pupil dilating drops but it took almost another two and a half weeks for my pupil to return to normal...was times I thought it never would. I was lucky that I have a great boss and was able to work from home for the following four weeks. I am back to the office now six weeks after surgery.  Vision in left eye is still a bit blurry but improves slightly every day.  I was not near sighted prior but the eye with the buckle is now...will see how much it adjusts over the next few months.  I still have some red in my eye and still have floaters and flashes, although they are improving greatly now.  I was lucky that a gas bubble was not required so didn't have to worry about head position. The whole experience was terrifying at times with the hardest part being not knowing if what I was experiencing was normal or not.  Apparently it was to be expected and seems all has turned out well.  If you are going through this, hang in as it does get better.  
177275 tn?1511755244
Thank you for sharing your experience.

Avatar universal
My story. I'm 24 years old. I developed a tear on my retina on September 2015. I told my doctor I had this dark spot in my peripheral vision and told me to get checked by an eye doctor. I couldn't get an appointment until end of December 2015. Everything was normal and I kept getting the same answer from different eye doctors until May 2016. By then my whole peripheral vision was affected. I finally got recommend to the same place I begged to have me checked on September 2015 but was denied.
Early June 2016, I was told I needed the scleral buckle surgery. I didn't ask too many questions because I just wanted my eye to be fixed. The surgery was the next morning. They used cryo and didnt put anything in my eye. I woke up crying and some pain. I had to take the pain killers they gave me for a few days. After one week I was able to keep my eye open. My surgeon told me it was looking good. I had my redness for about a month or a bit longer. Also for about a month and a half I couldn't focus my eyes together. At the end of August 2016 I developed another tear at the top of my eye and I had laser surgery that same day. I had a gas bubble placed in my eye. After a month the doctor told me it was looking fine but I still have a pocket of fluid. My bubble finally went away on the first week of November 2016 but I have this weird floater moving around in my eye. A couple days ago I went in in suspicion of another tear but I was fine. This was a different doctor and he decided to laser my pocket of fluid and another pocket of fluid he found at the bottom of my eye. He also said i might need another surgery. I still have more appointments to go to. It's been about 6 months now and I'm still unsure if my eye will be fine.
This whole time has been an emotional struggle for me. Not just because of my eye but other things have been happening because of my surgery, I guess. Also, my tear was because of my eye shape. Hopefully I will get a definitive "your eye is fine" from them by next year and new glasses.
I'm having trouble getting out there though. Since my scleral buckle took some of my peripheral vision and it's still pretty bad once it starts to get dark I feel insecure. I need to know how you guys deal with it! My twitter is @DivFlame7 if you could send me a private message there I would appreciate it.
This is a request to other retinal detachment patients.   Also use the search feature and review the many posts by other RD patients.
Dr. Hagan refers to the many other posts from folks like me.  I had a detachment and scleral buckle, among other things.  With eyes, the problem is that while the procedures are similar the results and effects vary dramatically by person. For example, I haven't had any change in peripheral vision. Lots of other issues, but not that. If you read others' stories you'll get a sense of the kind of road you can expect.  Your vision likely won't be the same as when you started, but hopefully you'll land in a good place. All the best.
Agree i never generalize about RD surgery
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