I want my patients to call me after retinal eye surgery if they develop pain and/or loss of vision. These two symptoms can be signs of either infection or retinal detachment, the two most dreaded complications of retinal surgery .
The most concerning post-operative complication of retinal eye surgery would be infection inside the eye. Infection inside the eye, called endophthalmitis, often leads to blindness.
The most frequent symptoms of endophthalmitis are pain and loss of vision. (Unfortunately, these symptoms are not 100% so please call your own doctor if you are concerned.)
I tell my patients to call if they develop pain that is not relieved by Tylenol, Advil or whatever usually works for headache. Incidentally, I rarely need to give an prescription pain relief for any of my surgeries. An advantage of this is the ability to monitor pain.
Pain can develop for other reasons other than infection, say increased eye pressure, but potentially blinding eye infection is obviously the most concerning.
Fortunately, endophthalmitis is very, very uncommon in retinal surgery.
Signs of retinal detachment following retinal surgery are not as obvious as compared to naturally occurring retinal detachments (I couldn’t think of a better term.) The usual signs of retinal detachment are flashes, floaters and loss of peripheral vision.
After retinal surgery, vision is usually poor so that the normal signs may be missed.
My advice for may patients is that they call if the vision gets worse, in any way, compared to the first day when the patch comes off.
Compared to cataract surgery, retinal surgery usually does not restore the vision quickly, if at all. I ask my patients to distinguish between actual worsening vision versus vision which fails to improve as quickly as hoped.
In general, if the vision improves or stays the same after the patch is removed…things are fine.
What Does This Mean?
These are my own recommendations for my patients. While I feel these are very good guidelines and have worked well for my patients over the past 20+ years, please follow the directions and recommendations of your personal doctor.
I try to practice medicine as practically as possible. My biggest fears following retinal surgery are infection and retinal detachment. Your doctor may have other concerns or you may have a specific condition or situation where these recommendations don’t apply.