A scleral buckle is a common surgical procedure used to repair a detached retina. During this surgery, the sclera (the outside covering or white of the eye) is indented or "buckled" inward, usually by attaching a piece of preserved sclera or silicone rubber to its surface.
How is the Surgery performed?
The surgery is performed in an operating room under general anesthesia. Because most retinal detachments are caused by a retinal tear (which in turn may have been caused by a vitreous detachment), the first objective is to repair the tear with a laser or by freezing (cryotherapy). This process creates scar tissue around the tear, healing it and preventing further damage. Then silicone is sewn onto the outside wall of the eye over the retinal tear site, so that it pushes in on the sclera (causing 'buckling') until scarring from the repair treatment (laser or cryotherapy) seals the tear. The buckle is not visible after surgery and is left on the eye permanently.
On occasion, a vitrectomy may also be performed in conjunction with the scleral buckling surgery. To read more about this procedure, click here.
Post-operatively, the eye may be red, scratchy and sore and vision may be blurry. Your eye will be patched and eye drops will be prescribed to prevent infection. In addition, your doctor will recommend physical activity be restricted to ensure that the retina remains attached.
What is the success rate for this procedure?
The success of retina surgery depends on a number of factors; the length of time that elapsed from when the retina detached until it was repaired, whether a fibrous growth has formed on the retina, and the size/location of the damage . If the macula was detached, vision will be permanently affected.
In most cases, the retina can be successfully reattached, but reattachment does not guarantee restored vision, it can only assure that no further loss of vision occurs. Vision can improve gradually over many months after surgery and, if the first operation is not successful, a second may be performed.
What are the possible complications?
The most common is re-detachment of the retina but also double vision can occur. Other complications (and more rare, but should be reported promptly to your doctor) include cataract formation, bleeding beneath the retina, glaucoma, infection, and drooping of the eyelid.