Is retinal tear surgery painful

A retinal tear is a rip in the thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye. Oftentimes the only symptoms of a problem with the retina are changes in vision; the actual tear is not painful. Because a tear can lead to retinal detachment, an eye emergency that can lead to blindness, surgery is often the best treatment to prevent further problems. Is retinal tear surgery painful?

There are 2 types of surgical procedures used to treat retinal tears; which one is right for you will be based on the location and severity of the tear. Both procedures work to seal the tear location, preventing fluid from leaking through and detaching the retina. 

Cryopexy is a treatment that can be performed in an office setting by an eye surgeon. A local anesthetic is applied to the eye to decrease sensation, and then a probe is used to freeze the tear. This extreme cold causes scarring around the tear, fusing the retina to the back of the eye. In all, cryopexy takes about 30 minutes. 

Photocoagulation is even faster, usually performed in an office setting in under 15 minutes. A laser is focused on the retina through a special lens, and then microscopic burns are created to cause scarring around the tear. Like cryopexy, the scarring secures the torn retina to the wall of the eye, preventing further damage. 

Many patients want to know if retinal surgery is painful. While some people report pressure or minor discomfort during the surgery, neither procedure requires any incisions. Following retinal tear surgery, some mild pain is common for a few hours. Resting is important for the first week or two following surgery in order to give scar tissue enough time to form. Your doctor will advise you on when you can return to normal activities, such as driving or exercising. For many patients, a single surgery is enough to seal the tear and prevent future retinal problems. A few patients may need a second surgery once the first procedure has healed to ensure lasting results.