Retinal detachment


After the operation, your eyelids may feel itchy and sticky, and some fluid may leak from your eye.

There may be some bruising around the eye. These symptoms are perfectly normal and any discomfort should go away after a couple of days. You can take a simple painkiller such as paracetamol to relieve the discomfort.

A day after the operation, your doctor will give you some eye drops to reduce the swelling and prevent infection.

It's important not to rub the eye while it heals, which will usually take two to six weeks.

If you had a gas bubble in your eye, your vision will be blurry for a while. This is only temporary.

It can take many months for vision to improve after surgery. In some cases, you may experience some degree of permanent vision loss, but not complete blindness.

Your ophthalmologist can advise you about any activities you may need to avoid while you recover.

The amount of vision that can be successfully restored depends, for the most part, on how much of the retina was detached and for how long.

You should ask your specialist when it'll be safe to return to work and drive. If you've been asked to keep your head in a certain position for several days (posturing), this may delay your return.

Your vision may not be as good as it was before. You should discuss this with your insurer before driving to make sure you meet minimum standards required by the DVLA.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) website has a section on living with sight loss, which provides useful resources for people who have recently lost some of their vision. 

Read more about visual impairment for information and advice.

When to seek help

Contact your hospital immediately if you have any of the following symptoms after your operation:

  • a very painful eye
  • increasing redness in the eye
  • loss of vision

In a gas-filled eye, you should be able to detect a moving hand. Call your doctor if your vision reduces and you can only see light.  

Page last reviewed: 09/01/2015
Next review due: 01/01/2018