Decreased Vision Following Retinal Detachment

There are many reasons why your sight may be poor following retinal detachment surgery.  Obviously, it is possible that the disease actually led to loss of vision as retinal detachments can lead to blindness.   There are, however, other less serious reasons for loss of vision following retinal detachment surgery.

Scleral Buckle for Retinal Detachment Repair

A scleral buckle is common method to fix a detached retina.  In most cases, a band is passed around the circumference of the eye.  This is similar to donning a corset around your mid-section, except in the case of the eye, the eye elongates.

The lengthening of the eye causes a change in your refraction, or, the strength of glasses needed to correct your vision.  A scleral buckle causes an increase in nearsightedness.

Other surgeons may elect to place a buckle only a small portion of the eye, but the result is the same; a scleral buckle changes the refraction of the eye.

Cataract Formation

This is a very common cause of decreased vision after successful retinal detachment surgery.  Intraocular gas is often injected into the eye to help repair the detached retina.  While the gas is very helpful in reattaching the retina, it is not so good for the natural lens and hastens the development of a cataract.

Epiretinal Membrane Formation

An epiretinal membrane can form on the surface of the retina and cause decreased vision and/or distortion.  These are also called “macular pucker” or “cellophane maculopathy.”  While these membranes may form in eyes that never had a retinal detachment, they are commonly associated with retinal detachments.

Recurrent Retinal Detachment

Of course, it is also possible that the retina simply came off again.  This may be due to additional retinal tears or to a disease termed “proliferative vitreoretinopathy” or PVR.

What Does This Mean? Retinal surgeons are usually pretty successful at reattaching a retina.  The whole process of recovery; however, can extend months beyond the actual surgery date.  None of the causes listed above can be self diagnosed and it is imperative you stay close to your doctor, preferably the retinal surgeon.

Contrary to what you may believe, retinal detachment surgery often, not always, leads to improved vision.  Thus, decreased vision after surgery should be evaluated by your doctor.

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  1. had retina detachment surgery it has been a whole month I now have wavy lines and strange letters that are of different sizes is this normal after surgery

  2. deb m.,

    Your symptoms are not necessarily normal, but may be explained by the condition of your retina when detached; how long was it detached, was your central vision involved?

    Randall V. Wong, M.D.
    Retina Specialist
    Fairfax, VA 22030

  3. Hi Dr. Wong,
    Thanks for creating this site. Very helpful.
    Not sure you can provide a great response—-but here’s my question.
    I had a detached retina in August of 2013 — successfully “fixed” via a vitrectomy, laser, and recuperation.
    Now the vision in that eye is kind of peculiar….I can see remarkably well at close range. But anything out past 6 inches starts to blur.
    When I use both eyes my “good” eye seems to compensate — although the overall effect is a bit ghosty. I can drive okay, so it’s not totally debilitating.
    I got a new prescription for distance from my optometrist —- and ordered some $99 glasses from Warby Parker. Had to return them —- it made my vision cross-eyed and distorted. I could not wear them at all.
    My surgeon says I am healing / am healed. He suggests going to another eye doctor — not just an optometrist.
    From your experience are they going to be able to help me? I know it’s hard to have a good opinion when you don’t know the entire story — but what is possible for my situation?


  4. Peter S.,

    I think you have some degree of anisometropia – one eye needs a much stronger prescription than the other. The eyes can usually tolerate some limited difference between each eye, but if too much, our brain can’t tolerate the difference. It’s probably why your new glasses from Warby Parker don’t feel right.

    Following scleral buckles, there are two usual factors contributing to the increased myopia; elongation of the eye from the buckle and cataract.

    You might consider an evaluation with either a general ophthalmologist or pediatric ophthalmologist.


    Randall V. Wong, M.D.
    Retina Specialist
    Fairfax, Virginia 22030

  5. i lossed my left eye vision due to retina detachment in an accident ,can i get my eye sight back.nearly 3 mts has passed for my surgery so please guide me

  6. tanveer,

    Really can’t advise. I don’t have the ability to examine you…I am so sorry.


  7. 29 July 14, I had a detached retina, treatment consisted of Scleral Buckle, laser and gas bubble. About 4 weeks into recovery, there was a short period of time that I could see my pulse in my surgery eye, whether it was open or closed. I had my final visit with the surgeon 3 Sep 14. My vision has been improving gradually each week, but I am waiting for further healing before I have new prescription lenses. Today my vision in the effected eye seems significantly worse and I experienced seeing my pulse in my surgery eye for a short period of time again. Can you explain why I would see my pulse beating in my eye?

  8. MJ,

    My first thought is your eye is throbbing (from your pulse) due to your eye moving from tissue in your orbit (eye socket) pulsing.

    Make sense?



  1. […] Decreased vision and double vision (aka diplopia) after retinal detachment surgery may occur, yet is not common.  The perception of “double” is more common than actually seeing two of everything.  There are several causes for really seeing two images following retinal detachment surgery. […]

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