For people diagnosed with retinal detachment, a surgical procedure, known as a scleral buckle or buckling, is often used to repair the damage. With a scleral buckle procedure, a silicone or plastic band is placed around the patient’s eye.
The scleral band changes the affected eye’s shape, moving the retina back into contact with the wall of the eye. The surgical team then uses another treatment method, such as cryotherapy or lasers, to treat any retinal breaks and other weak areas. Scleral buckle therapy is very effective in repairing retinal detachments.
What Does Scleral Buckle Surgery Involve?
Retinal detachments typically occur when the vitreous gel (or vitreous humor), a clear, jelly-like gel filling most of the eye, starts to shrink away. This causes the retina, the thin layer of photosensitive tissue lining the back of the eye, to be pulled out of place.
Just before complete retinal detachment, you may experience sudden symptoms, such as floaters, darkened vision, light flashes, and blurriness. If left untreated, there can be permanent blindness. Retinal detachments are almost always treated surgically.
The scleral buckle procedure is typically performed in an operating room on an outpatient basis. Your retinal specialist will place a small piece of silicone sponge or semi-hard plastic on the outside of the eye, specifically, the sclera, the eye’s white part, exposing your eyeball. The scleral buckle holds the eye against the retina, pulling it back into position.
And while effective on its own, another operation, a vitrectomy, may be performed in conjunction with the scleral buckle procedure. A vitrectomy involves the removal of the vitreous gel from the back of the eye.
What to Expect Before the Procedure
During an eye examination, your doctor may use special instruments to shine a light and carefully examine your retina. To get an unobstructed view of a potential retinal detachment, they may dilate your eyes and provide an ultrasound.
What to Expect After the Procedure
Once the procedure is completed, your surgeon will use another treatment form – cryotherapy (freezing treatment), heat (diathermy), or light (laser photocoagulation) – to hold the retina in place until a seal forms. This seal holds the eyes’ layers together and keeps fluid from getting between them. Depending on the amount of fluid under the detached retina, the area may need to be drained through a tiny scleral hole, but the retina can remove smaller amounts of fluid on its own.
Scleral Buckle Procedure Recovery
The scleral buckle procedure has been found to be very effective in more than 98 percent of retinal detachments. In fact, 90 percent of patients have their retina completely repaired after a single operation. Once the procedure’s completed, you may experience some mild eye pain, blurriness, swelling, and redness. However, it can take months or years for your vision to fully improve.
Scleral Buckle Procedure in Utah
The vitreoretinal surgeons of Retina Associates of Utah have extensive experience performing scleral buckling for patients experiencing a retinal detachment. To schedule an appointment, including emergency appointments, contact us today.