What is scleral buckling?
Scleral buckling is a type of eye surgery to repair a detached retina and restore
The retina is a layer of nerve cells in the back of your eye. These cells use light
to send visual information to your brain. Retinal detachment happens when part or
all of your retina detaches from the back inner wall of your eye. When that happens,
your retina does not work normally. Part or all of your vision is lost, depending
on how much of your retina detaches. If not treated right away, it can cause lifelong
(permanent) vision loss.
Your eye surgeon may do scleral buckling under local or general anesthesia. During
this surgery, your eye surgeon may use a freezing tool to help seal your retina back
together. After that, your surgeon will use a small silicone band (scleral buckle)
to hold your retina in place.
Why might I need scleral buckling?
Certain factors make it more likely that you will have a retinal detachment. These
Most of the time, the retinal detachment happens suddenly on its own. But in rare
cases, an eye injury can cause it as well.
If you have a retinal detachment, you will likely need some sort of surgery. You might
have new floaters in your eye. These look like little specks or cobwebs that float
in your field of vision. These floaters can be so dense that they impair your vision.
You might also have light flashes in your eye or a curtain over your field of vision.
If you have these symptoms, you may need an emergency surgery to reattach the retina.
This can restore your vision.
Eye care providers sometimes treat retinal detachment with a less invasive procedure
called pneumatic retinopexy. This procedure can't treat all types of retinal detachments.
If you have a complex retinal detachment, you may also need another surgery called
a vitrectomy. All of these methods can successfully fix a detached retina. Ask your
eye care provider about the benefits and risks of all your treatment choices.
What are the risks of scleral buckling?
Most people do well with scleral buckling surgery. But complications do sometimes
happen. Your risks may depend on your age, your health, and the specifics of your
retinal detachment. Risks of the procedure include:
Scar tissue forming on or under the retina, causing another retinal detachment (proliferative
Detachment of the eye layer under your retina (the choroid)
Bleeding in your eye
Increased pressure in your eye
New retinal tears
There is also a risk that a retinal detachment will come back and that you will need
How do I get ready for scleral buckling?
Ask your eye care provider what you need to do to get ready for scleral buckling surgery.
Ask if you need to stop taking any medicines before the procedure. Follow any directions
you are given for not eating or drinking before the surgery.
Your eye care provider may want to use special tools to shine a light in your eye
and check your retina. You will need to have your eyes dilated for your eye exam.
You also might have an ultrasound of your eye. This helps your eye care provider see
the retinal detachment.
What happens during scleral buckling?
Talk with your eye surgeon about what to expect during your surgery. The details may
vary. The surgery will be done in an operating room. In general, during the procedure:
You may be given medicine (anesthesia) to put you to sleep. If this is the case, you
will sleep deeply during the surgery. You won't remember it afterward.
In other cases, you may be awake during the surgery. You will be given a medicine
to help you relax. In this case, your eye care provider will use an injection to make
sure you don't feel anything.
Your eye care provider will give you eye drops to dilate your eye.
Your surgeon will expose your eye, making a cut (incision) in the outer layer of your
Your surgeon will use a special tool (ophthalmoscope) to view your retina.
Your surgeon will use a device to seal your retina back together. In most cases, your
surgeon will do this with a freezing device that seals the retina to the inner wall
of the eye.
Your surgeon will place a silicone band (buckle) around the outside of your eye like
a belt. This helps to make sure that your retina stays in place.
Some fluid may be drained from under your retina.
An antibiotic ointment may be applied to your eye to help prevent infection.
You will be given a patch to cover up your eye.
What happens after scleral buckling?
Ask your eye care provider what you should expect after your surgery. In most cases,
you will be able to go home the same day. Plan to have someone drive you home.
Follow your healthcare provider’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
as directed. You may need to wear an eye patch for a day or so.
You will need close follow-up care with your surgeon to see if the procedure was effective.
You may have a scheduled appointment the day after the procedure. Tell your surgeon
right away if you have reduced vision or more pain or swelling around your eye. If
the procedure does not work, you may need to have another surgery.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure, make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how you will get the results
Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure