How Long Will the Gas Bubble Stay in My Eye After Retinal Detachment Treatment?
You have just had surgery to fix a retinal detachment or tear in your retina. If your doctor used an intraocular gas bubble to hold the retina in place while it heals, the gas serves as a substitute for the vitreous to keep the retinal surface dry during recovery. Because a retinal detachment surgery is often performed as an emergency medical intervention, patients don’t usually get to prepare for surgery ahead of time. Now that you are on the road to recovery, you will want the answers to many inevitable questions including “how long will the gas bubble stay in my eye after retinal detachment treatment?”
Maintaining a face-down position after retinal surgery is one of the more peculiar recovery methods but it serves a purpose. By keeping your head parallel to the ground, it allows the bubble to remain in the correct position so that it heals as quickly and effectively as possible. How long the gas bubble remains can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Over time, the eye fills with its own fluid and the gas bubble disappears. The duration of the bubble also depends on the type of gas the doctor used during surgery. The most used gases are the SF6, sulfur hexafluoride and the C3F8, perfluoropropane, the latter is used for more complex retinal surgeries. The SF6 usually lasts from 10 days to 1 month while the C3F8 lasts 6 to 8 weeks. Sometimes the bubble is simply air and not a medical gas. A bubble of air consists mainly of nitrogen and oxygen with tiny amounts of argon and carbon dioxide and will be absorbed within 5 to 7 days.
Vision with a gas bubble looks out of focus. As the bubble dissipates, vision will slowly be restored. When the bubble reaches half its size, you will be able to see a horizontal line across your vision. As the eye refills with aqueous humor, the bubble will shrink, vision will improve and finally the bubble will resolve on its own. It is important to follow all the aftercare guidelines provided by your surgeon including avoiding rubbing the eyes as well as restrictions of no air travel or traveling to high altitudes due to the risk of gas expansion which could severely and permanently damage the optic nerve and vision loss.
For more information about retinal detachment and treatment options, call Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or visit associatedretinaconsultants.com for more information. To check the health of your retina, book an appointment with one of our highly skilled, board-certified ophthalmologists.