Written by Dr. Rashida Shabbir Tankiwala , Diplomate of National Board (DNB) | 
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sunil Shroff, MBBS, MS, FRCS (UK), D. Urol (Lond) on Oct 03, 2016


Surgery is the treatment of choice for retinal detachment. There are various surgical modalities depending on the cause of retinal detachment.

The hole or tear is sealed with cryotherapy or laser depending on the position of the break. Anterior or more peripheral breaks are easily tackled with cryotherapy. The posterior breaks are sealed with laser therapy.

Various types of surgeries are done to hold the break against the outer coats of the eye ball (tamponade) for permanent closure. They are as follows:

  • External tamponade: Scleral buckling
  • Internal tamponade:
  1. Pneumatic retinopexy
  2. Vitrectomy with air or silicon oil tamponade

Scleral buckling: The hole or tear is first sealed with cryo or laser therapy following which sclera buckling is done. It is a surgical procedure in which a silicone band or sponge is sewn around the eyeball a little behind the visible portion or the eye. The surgeon first exactly locates the hole and places the band and tightens it creating a buckle effect. The outer coats of the eye are indented and in this way the hole in the retina approximates the outer scleral coat.

Scleral Buckling

Drain: The fluid that seeps out through the hole behind the retina can be drained with a small slit made in the outer coats of the eye to flatten the retina. This procedure called sub-retinal fluid drain is usually done along with sclera bucking to flatten the retina.

Pneumatic Retinopexy: It is a short simple procedure in which a fixed amount of air is injected in the posterior part of the eye which acts as an internal tamponade helping to push and approximate the tear with the outer coat of the eye ball. Following which the tear is sealed with cryo or laser therapy. Post-operatively the patient is advised rest in a specified position so as to facilitate the air bubble to push the desired area of the retina with the tear against the sclera.

Pneumatic Retinopexy

Vitrectomy: Retinal detachments due to advanced diabetic eye disease, trauma, endopthalmitis, traction, giant retinal tears and detachments associated with vitreous hemorrhage require this specialized surgical procedure called vitrectomy. The procedure involves cutting and removal of the vitreous gel along with removal of all the fibrous tissue causing traction (pull) on the retina and detaching it. It is done with the help of micro instruments and a fiberoptic light source. Following which the space is replaced with gas or silicon oil. Sometimes the procedure is combined with sclera buckling.



  1. Jack J. Kanski “Retinal detachment”, A colour manual of diagnosis and treatment.
  2. Hector Chawla,”Retinal detachment” Retinal detachment: the essentials of management.


be.kay Wednesday, December 11, 2013

10 year old girl had a detached retina stuck back 3 months ago, the operation was said to be a success, 3 months on she has only 5% vision in the eye, the detached retina may have happened some time prior to the operation, can anything be done to improve this situation ? The operation was performed in Nice France, is there some place in the world that has advanced procedures in this field ?

manoj.11 Sunday, January 29, 2012

My father is having the retina detachment in both the eyes. First right side eye was operated about 15 years with unsuccessful operation and treatment. Please let me know if there are any further development in retina detachment case? if so please let me know the address and other details.So i can for other eye.

cynthia48 Saturday, December 10, 2011

my husband detached his left eye retina while on vacation. he was seeh 1 week later and confirmed a complete retinal detachment. was schedule for a pars plana vitrectomyon the 10th day but was cancelled due to a stye that developed on that eye.was put on doxycycline bid and erythromycin oint 3x a day and bedtime.5 days paseed and suregery was finaly done yesterday.surgeon was very pleased and very optimistic about the eye. the macula was involved dont know if it is on and off macula detachement as well.what are the chances of vision recovery in this particular situation.he is on prone sitting position right now possibly a week he said.today he lasered the remainder fluid left over by the macula and still very pleased about the outcome of surgery.can you give me percentage of vision recovery. my hussband has noexisting med. problem. he had bilateral cataract extractions last year wwww/ a unifocal lens implant. thank you

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