Can You Fly After a Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment is the separation of the retina from the choroid, a membrane dense with blood vessels that is located between the retina and the sclera (white of the eye). The retina is a thin layer of light sensitive tissue that lines the back portion of the eye. When light passes through the eye, the lens focuses an image on the retina. The retina converts the image to signals that it sends to the brain through the optic nerve. The retina works with the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye and the brain to produce normal vision. When the retina detaches, it is deprived of its blood supply and source of nourishment and loses its ability to function. This can impair vision to the point of blindness, depending on how much of the retina is detached.

Most retinal detachments are originally caused by a small tear or hole in this sensitive retinal wall. In Phoenix, our doctors has broad experience treating patients with a detached retina, using the latest surgical methods, such as laser surgery, scleral buckle, gas bubble injection and vitrectomy, to help patients retain their vision.

A retinal detachment is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention and treatment to avoid loss of vision. Retinal detachment can occur for any number of reasons, including advanced disease (diabetic retinopathy), trauma (a sudden blow to the head) or from aging (the most common cause). 

Following retinal detachment surgery, it is important that flying is completely avoided until your eye has fully healed. This is usually for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery but possibly longer after some retinal detachment surgeries. Sometimes during surgery, a gas bubble is used to help keep the retina in place. Flying poses a risk to anyone who has had gas injected into their eye during a procedure. At higher altitudes, injected gas in the eye will expand with a potentially damaging and painful increase in eye pressure. Although commercial airplane cabins are pressurized, the amount of pressurization is typically inadequate to prevent such an event.  

To learn more about retinal detachments, contact Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or website

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