Home > Health Library > Scleral Buckling Surgery for Retinal Detachment
Scleral buckling surgery is a common
way to treat
retinal detachment. It is a method of closing breaks
and flattening the
A scleral buckle is a piece of silicone sponge,
rubber, or semi-hard plastic that your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) places on the outside of the eye (the
sclera, or the white of the eye). The material is sewn to the eye to keep it in
place. The buckling element is usually left in place permanently.
The element pushes in, or "buckles," the sclera toward the middle of the
eye. This buckling effect on the sclera relieves the pull (traction) on the
retina, allowing the retinal tear to settle against the wall of the eye. The
buckle effect may cover only the area behind the detachment, or it may encircle
the eyeball like a ring.
By itself, the buckle does not prevent a
retinal break from opening again. Usually extreme cold (cryopexy) or, less
commonly, heat (diathermy) or light (laser photocoagulation) is used to scar
the retina and hold it in place until a seal forms between the retina and the
layer beneath it. The seal holds the layers of the eye together and keeps fluid
from getting between them.
You may have some pain for a few days
after the surgery. Your eye may be swollen, red, or tender for several weeks.
Your eye doctor may put drops in your eye that prevent infection and keep the
pupil from opening wide (dilating) or closing (constricting). You may have to
wear a patch over the eye for a day or more.
Contact your doctor right away if you notice any signs of
complications after surgery, such as:
Scleral buckling is effective in
supporting a tear, hole, or break in the retina that has caused the detachment.
It is rarely helpful on its own when scar tissue tugging on the retina has
caused the detachment (traction detachment).
Placing a scleral buckle reattaches
the retina in most cases.1
Chances for good vision after surgery are higher if
macula was still attached before surgery. If the
detachment affected the macula, good vision after surgery is still possible but
Scleral buckling poses some short-term and
long-term risks. Most of these complications do not happen very often. Risks include the following:
The surgery may also affect your vision in other
There are a few
ways to repair a retinal detachment. The chance that each surgery type can help
restore good vision varies from case to case. The cause, location, and type of
detachment usually determine which surgery will work best. Other conditions or
eye problems may also play a role in the decision.
need more than one surgery to reattach the retina if scar tissue from the first surgery grows over the surface of your retina.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Committee on Ophthalmic Procedure Assessment,
American Academy of Ophthalmology (1996, reaffirmed 2012). The repair of rhegmatogenous retinal
detachments. Ophthalmology, 103(8):
July 15, 2013
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
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