Should you experience a retinal detachment, a very serious condition, typically, you’ll undergo a surgical procedure known as a scleral buckle. Also referred to as scleral buckling, it involves a special band being implanted around the afflicted eye(s). At Illinois Retina Associates, our team of vitreoretinal surgeons is very experienced in performing this procedure. Often, additional surgeries may be conducted to address other retinal breaks or weakened areas.
When Is Scleral Buckling Recommended?
The scleral buckling surgery is very effective in repairing retinal detachment. This condition typically occurs as the result of a condition known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Within the eye, the majority is filled by the eye's vitreous, which may also be referred to as vitreous body, gel, or humor. While this clear, gelatinous mass serves to maintain the structural integrity of the eye, it also enables a direct path for light signals to reach the retina.
However, with PVD, normal aging results in the gradual shrinking of the vitreous, causing it to pull on the retina. Over time, the entire retina can be moved completely out of its proper placement, resulting in a retinal detachment. Potentially a significant health threat, the onset of retinal detachment is typically preceded by symptoms such as floaters, darkened vision, light flashes, and blurriness. If left untreated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. Typically, this condition is treated surgically, and a scleral buckle is one of the most common treatment options.
If you are experiencing a sudden increase in floaters, flashes, shadows, blurriness in your peripheral (side) vision, or a curtain appearing over part of your field of vision, you should seek immediate medical care, as this could be a sign of a retinal tear or detachment. Retinal tears and detachments are medical emergencies that need to be addressed as quickly as possible.
If emergencies arise, our multiple retinal clinics provide on-call service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call your local Illinois Retinal Associates office, and you’ll be immediately contacted.
Scleral Buckle: The Procedural Steps, Preparation, and Recovery
If a scleral buckling is recommended, you’ll likely undergo an outpatient procedure conducted in an operating room setting. Typically, your retina surgeon places a small piece of silicone sponge or semi-hard plastic on the sclera (the eye’s exterior white part). This implant is designed to press the eye against the retina, ultimately stabilizing its normal placement along the back eye wall.
Once placed, the surgeon usually performs another treatment with the intent of holding together the eyes’ layers. This maneuver helps to secure the retina, keeping everything intact until a seal has developed, while also stopping any fluid from seeping in. Your surgeon may incorporate such techniques as laser photocoagulation or cryotherapy. At this time, they may also create a tiny scleral hole to drain any fluid under the area of retina detachment. The retina can remove smaller amounts of fluid on its own.
Will Additional Procedures Be Performed During a Scleral Buckle?
For retinal detachment, scleral buckling serves as an effective treatment option. However, with this procedure, surgeons may often perform another procedure, a vitrectomy, involving the deletion, whether partial or full, of the vitreous from its location on the posterior (back) eyewall.
What Should I Expect Before Scleral Buckling?
Before undergoing the scleral buckle, you will need a complete, comprehensive eye examination. This will likely include dilation (widening), in which special eye drops are applied, allowing ophthalmologists to view the back of the eye, including the retina, without obstructions.
What Is the Recovery Process Like With the Scleral Buckle?
The scleral buckle is an effective treatment option for retinal detachments, with a success rate of more than 98%. It’s been shown that among 90% of patients, complete retina repair was found following a single procedure. However, certain common, post-surgical symptoms may occur, including mild eye pain, blurriness, swelling, and redness. It should be noted that for full vision improvement, this may take months or years.
Scleral Buckle Surgery in Illinois and Indiana
Illinois Retina Associates is a leading retina-only ophthalmology practice in the Midwest devoted to diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of retinal, macular, and vitreoretinal conditions. Our retina specialists and surgeons are highly experienced in performing a wide array of advanced retinal treatments, including scleral buckle surgery. When you or a loved one visit our retina centers, rest assured that our experienced retina specialists and surgeons will develop a personalized treatment plan to ensure your recovery. Contact one of our 12 convenient locations today to schedule a consultation.