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Surgery for Retinal Detachment


There are many types of surgery for retinal detachment. Talk to your healthcare provider about which eye surgery is right for you. You may have pain and swelling in or around your eye for several days after surgery. You may also have bloody or pink eye drainage for 48 hours. It may take several months for your vision to get better. Surgery may not improve or return your vision.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe eye pain.
  • You have sudden changes in your vision or loss of vision.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your eye is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help prevent a bacterial infection. They may be given as eye drops.
  • Antinausea medicine helps prevent nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting can increase pressure in your eye and cause damage.
  • Stool softeners help prevent constipation. Constipation causes you to strain. This can increase pressure in your eye and cause damage.
  • Steroids help decrease swelling. They may be given as eye drops.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Wear your eye patch or shield as directed:

These devices help your eye rest and heal.

Eye Patch Eye Shield

Wound care:

Remove the bandage in 48 hours or as directed. Apply a cool compress on your eye for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use a washcloth or towel soaked in cool water. A cool compress will help decrease swelling and pain. Replace your eye patch or shield after you remove the compress.


Ask your healthcare provider when you can drive and return to your normal activities. Some activities can increase pressure in your eye. High pressure can prevent healing and may cause the retina to detach again. Follow these instructions to prevent an increase in eye pressure:

  • Do not cough, vomit, or strain to have a bowel movement. You may be given medicine to prevent vomiting or constipation.
  • Keep your head above your waist at all times. Do not bend forward.
  • Lie or rest in the position that your healthcare provider tells you to. If you had a vitrectomy, lie face down as much as possible. Keep your head turned to the side to allow easy breathing. Your healthcare provider will tell how often you can sit up or change your position. After other types of eye surgery, you may need to keep your head in 1 position, or sleep with your head raised on pillows.
  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can travel to high altitudes or travel on an airplane.
  • Do not exercise until your healthcare provider says it is okay.

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 1 to 2 days, or as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.