Having Pneumatic Retinopexy

Pneumatic retinopexy is a procedure to correct a detached retina. It helps to bring back vision. It uses a special tool to repair the retina, and a small bubble of gas to hold the retina in place so it can heal.

What to tell your healthcare provider

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen. It also includes vitamins, herbs, and other supplements. And tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • Have had any recent changes in your health, such as an infection or fever

  • Are sensitive or allergic to any medicines, latex, tape, or anesthesia (local and general)

  • Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant

Tests before your procedure

You may need some exams before your procedure. Your doctor may use special tools to shine a light in your eye and look at your retina. You may need to have your eyes dilated for the eye exam. You also may have an ultrasound of your eye. This helps your doctor look at the detached retina.

Getting ready for your procedure

Talk with your healthcare provider about how to get ready for your procedure. You may need to stop taking some medicines before the procedure, such as blood thinners and aspirin. If you smoke, you may need to stop before your procedure. Smoking can delay healing. Talk with your healthcare provider if you need help to stop smoking.

Also, make sure to:

  • Ask a family member or friend to take you home from the hospital. You can't drive yourself.

  • Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before your procedure

  • Follow all other instructions from your healthcare provider

You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully. Ask questions if something is not clear.

On the day of your procedure

The procedure is done in an eye doctor’s office. Your eye doctor will tell you what to expect during your procedure. A typical procedure goes like this:

  • You will likely be awake during the surgery. You may get medicine to help you relax. The doctor will use anesthetic eye drops to make sure you don’t feel anything. Your doctor may inject another anesthetic into your eye.

  • The doctor will use eye drops to dilate your pupil. It will stay dilated for several hours after the procedure.

  • Your doctor may use a syringe to remove some fluid from inside your eye.

  • Your doctor will inject a bubble into the area near your retina. He or she may use an ophthalmoscope to make sure the air bubble is in the right place.

  • The doctor will use a very cold tool to help seal the layers of your retina back together.

  • He or she will put antibiotic ointment on your eye. This is to help prevent infection.

  • A patch may be put on your eye.

After your procedure

Ask your doctor about what you should expect after your procedure. Plan to have someone go home with you after the procedure.

Follow your doctor’s instructions about eye care. You may need to take eye drops with antibiotics to help prevent infection. Your eye may be a little sore after the procedure, but you should be able to take over-the-counter pain medicines. You may need to wear an eye patch for a day or so.

Recovering at home

Follow your doctor’s instructions about how to position your head after the procedure. This will help to prevent problems. You may need to keep a certain position for 8 hours per day or more for a week or 2 after your procedure. You should not travel by airplane until the gas bubble has gone away. Ask your doctor when it will be safe for you to fly again.

Follow-up care

You will need close follow-up care with your doctor to see how the procedure worked. You may have an appointment the day after the procedure. If the procedure doesn’t work, you may need to have surgery.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Decreased eyesight

  • Eye swelling that gets worse

  • Eye pain that doesn’t get better, or gets worse