Pneumatic retinopexy is done for certain types of retinal detachments. It can be useful when:
A single break or tear caused the detachment.
Multiple breaks are small and close to each other.
The break is in the upper part of the retina. You have to hold your head so that the break and the bubble are at the highest point. This is not practical if the break is on the bottom of the eyeball. You would have to keep your head upside down.
How Well It Works
This surgery can repair the retina most of the time.
You are more likely to have good vision after surgery if the macula was still attached before surgery. Good vision is less likely if the detachment affected the macula.
The most common problems after this surgery include:
Scarring on the retina. This often causes the retina to detach again. Scarring is the most common reason that surgery fails.
New breaks or tears forming.
The need for more surgery to reattach the retina.
Fluid that stays under the retina or is absorbed very slowly.
Small gas bubbles getting trapped under the retina.
For this surgery to work, the gas bubble has to press against the retina until it flattens. This means you will need to hold your head in the proper position for long periods of time. This surgery may not be an option if for any reason you are not able to stay in the right position for the time required.
There are a few ways to repair a retinal detachment. Which surgery will work best depends on the cause, location, and type of detachment. Other conditions or eye problems may also play a role in the decision.
You may need more surgery to reattach the retina if scar tissue from the first surgery grows over the surface of your retina.
Current as of: December 17, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine