What is Scleral Buckle Eye Surgery

Scleral buckle eye surgery has been around for generations and is still a mainstay of retinal detachment surgery.

Featured Image Retinal Detachment

Scleral buckle eye surgery to repair a retinal detachment has been in use since the early 1950s and it remains an essential technique for reattaching the retina.

The scleral buckle, which is usually made of silicone semi-hard plastic, supports the retina from outside the eye. It is placed under the eye muscles and usually encircles the sclera or white part of the eye and eliminates the tugging that is detaching the retina. 

The buckle is placed behind the eyelids and cannot be seen. It is sewn to the sclera (the actual white part of the eye) and it presses the walls of the eye inward, taking pressure off the retina and allowing it to reattach to the eye’s interior wall. The buckle usually remains in place permanently.

Scleral buckling is sometimes a stand-alone treatment for the repair of a retinal detachment and sometimes it is used in combination with a vitrectomy.

A laser or a sub-zero probe (cryopexy) may also be used to seal off the areas of the retina that were torn to prevent further fluid leakage and pressure on the retina.

Side effects of a scleral buckle

The possible complications or side effects of scleral buckling surgery include:

  • Increased myopia (nearsightedness) caused by the increased length of the eye when it is buckled
  • Increase in astigmatism also caused by the buckle changing the eye’s shape
  • Double vision is uncommon but can occur because the eye’s muscles were manipulated when placing the buckle under the eye muscles.
  • Pain after the procedure which can usually be controlled with acetaminophen or ibuprofen and will subside in a few days.

 What causes retinal detachment?

The most common type of retinal detachment, that accounts for 90% of all retinal detachments,occurs when a small tear or hole appears in the retina that allows the vitreous gel of the eye to seep behind the retina where it pushed the retina away from the back of the eye. 

Tears in the retina are caused by vitreous gel, which contains millions of fibers, that becomes “sticky” and tugs at the retina making minute tears in it. Retinal holes develop in areas where the retina has thinned. Retinal holes are typically smaller than tears and have a much lower risk for causing a retinal detachment.

Recovery after scleral buckling eye surgery

The recovery time varies, but ranges from two-to-eight weeks. An eye patch may be required for a few days after surgery and antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed to prevent infection. Your eye may have redness, tenderness, and swelling for a few weeks after surgery.

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us (877) 245.2020.

Nader Moinfar, M.D., M.P.H.
Retina Specialist
Orlando, FL

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