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What is Pneumatic Retinopexy?
Compared to procedures that require incisions to repair retinal detachments, pneumatic retinopexy (PR) is a common 2-step outpatient procedure. Jacksonville, FL retinal specialists, Dr. Shawn Agee and Dr. John Sullivan, sometimes use this technique instead of a vitrectomy, which makes incision to remove vitreous gel to repair a detached retina. In PR, your doctor will first inject a gas bubble into the eye and then use a method to adhere breaks in the retina. Retinal detachments occur when the vitreous gel located in the middle of the eye detaches from the retina, resulting in a tear or detachment. This can cause a number of vision issues, including loss, distortion, and blurriness.
Pneumatic retinopexy is usually recommended for patients with:
- A single break or tear that results from the retinal detachment.
- Multiple breaks when they are small and grouped close together.
- A break that’s located in the upper area of the retina.
What to Expect
Prior to pneumatic retinopexy, your retina specialist will dilate your eyes and then numb them with eye drops to reduce discomfort. The eye is cleaned out to prevent infection. A gas bubble will be injected into the middle of the eyeball to allow it to float to the location of the detachment. The bubble will the press lightly against the detachment as part of the first step. For the second step, your doctor will use laser technology or cyropexy (a form of freezing) to completely seal the tear(s) in the retina. This is normally an outpatient surgery and the patient can return home the same day.
Following surgery, the gas bubble will remain in the eye for approximately 1 – 3 weeks and will be naturally absorbed by the eye. While it remains in the eye, the bubble aids in flattening the retina until a cohesive seal forms in between the retina and eye wall. The total recovery from PR is about 3 weeks. The most challenging part of the surgery is keeping the bubble in place, which is accomplished by holding the head in a certain position during recovery. Restrictions include not lying on your back and avoiding flying on an airplane.
For most patients, PR is successful and repairs retinal detachments completely. Vision loss and other vision problems can also be restored after the surgery.
Pneumatic retinopexy is effective for certain types of retinal detachments, which you can discuss with your doctor. To schedule a consultation, give our office a call today to set up an appointment to come in and have all of your questions answered.