Scleral buckle surgery is typically used to close any breaks or holes present in the retina, as well as flatten the retina when it gets separated from the eye wall. A scleral buckle can consist of semi-hard plastic, silicone sponge, or rubber. In scleral buckle surgery, the scleral is attached to the sclera (white of the eye) and the sclera is “buckled” toward the center of the eye. On its own, the scleral buckle does not fully guarantee that the retina will not tear again. However, it is typically combined with cryopexy (intense cold therapy), diathermy (heat therapy), or laser photocoagulation to scar the retina and hold it in place, creating a seal with the retina and the underlying layer.


In order to prevent the detachment of the retina from spreading and tearing even further, the physician may request the patient to place a patch over both eyes and to remain in bed for a substantial period of time before the surgery. Scleral buckle surgery may be done under either a local anesthetic or general anesthesia and can take up to two hours to complete. Immediately before the actual surgery, eye drops will dilate the patient’s pupils and eyelashes may need to be trimmed so that they do not obscure the surgery. The scleral buckle will then be attached to the sclera. Typically, the patient will be permitted to return home on the same day as the procedure.


Following the surgery, the physician may require the patient to use eye drops to help prevent infection and minimize the movement of the eye. The physician may also request for the patient to wear a patch over the treated eye for some time after the procedure. Some pain is to be expected for the first few days after surgery, and some swelling and redness may occur for several weeks. The prospects of a successful surgery are higher if the macula (yellowish area near the middle of the retina) was attached before surgery. If the macula was not attached preceding the surgery, the chance of success is lessened, but good vision is still likely.


Scleral buckle surgery can be a great option to repair tears, breaks, or holes that may develop in the retina. It can help to mend vision and when combined with other procedures, it can help prevent additional tearing. If you have any inquiries or think that this might be the surgery for you, call our office today to schedule a consultation.