Certain retinal surgeries require that you keep your head in a face down (parallel to the ground) position during recovery. If this position is not maintained for several weeks after surgery, the surgery will not be successful.
Typically, face-down positioning is required for several days to a week and, in some cases, longer. This method of recovery can prove to be awkward and uncomfortable for the patient, leading to discomfort and morbidity, especially in cases of advanced age or musculoskeletal disorders.
Instead of getting a special face-down pillow with a space cut out for your face, you can arrange a large towel into a horseshoe shape to support your head as you sleep. You can also place trays on top of pillows or bean bags to make a useful surface for eating, reading or using a laptop or tablet.
After retina surgery, you will need to keep your head in a face-down position. This is because a gas bubble has been placed into your eye. Recovering with your head down allows the bubble to float into the proper position. The bubble cradles the retina in place to heal correctly.
Face down (“eyes down”) posturing is only required during waking hours, not when you're sleeping. It is recommended to sleep on either side or even your front, but not sleep on your back as that would make the bubble move away from the macular hole.
You should avoid exercising for at least 2 weeks following your surgery. You may resume normal activities, little by little. After week 1, you may start by walking as much as a mile. You may advance to 2 miles, in the second week and can typically run by week six.
Later on, your sight will begin to return. The timing depends on the type of gas used: short-acting gas (SF6) takes 2 to 3 weeks to disappear; long-acting gas (C3F8) takes about 2 months. When the gas bubble is down to half size, you will see a horizontal line across your vision, bobbing up and down with head movement.
“High eye pressure can interfere with the incision before it fully heals,” says Eghrari. “Positions that put your head below your waist, such as bending over, can also increase eye pressure and should be avoided initially after surgery.”
You can take a shower or bath 24 hours after your surgery. Do not get water or soap in your eye. Keep your eye closed while you shower. Use a clean washcloth every time and normal tap water to clean secretions from your lashes or the corner of your eye.
Sleep in a correct position
After blepharoplasty, we recommend that you sleep on your back with your head elevated for at least 3-4 weeks. This helps reduce eyelid swelling and speeds up recovery.
This may be one of the sheets used during surgery to cover the patient and keep the operation area sterile, or other equipment. Anaesthetists take care to ensure the eyes are closed during a general anaesthetic and to protect the eyes.
Plan on taking one to three days off of work to be sure you have enough time to rest, but it is normal to resume most normal activities within a couple of days. Simple diversions like reading, watching TV, writing, and walking are okay to resume as soon as you feel up for it after your eye surgery.
Avoid any bending or lifting for 1 week after surgery. After 1 week, you may do light housework and bend over to pick up light objects. Then, gradually resume your regular activities.
Don't do things that might cause you to move your head. This includes moving quickly, lifting anything heavy, or doing activities such as cleaning or gardening. If your doctor used an oil or gas bubble to hold the retina in place, keep your head in a certain position for a few days or longer after the surgery.
Outlook. A vitrectomy is a low-risk procedure with a high chance of success that can treat many eye conditions. In some cases, your vision may improve if substances or blood in your vitreous were causing you to have clouded or blurry vision.
Tape the patient's head to the operating room table before starting the surgery. I use paper tape to gently hold the patient's head in place during the procedure. Place it over the forehead and use a tape that is gentle and will not damage delicate skin.
A long-term consequence of cataract surgery is posterior capsular opacification (PCO). PCO is the most common complication of cataract surgery.
While home, you may be allowed to remove your eye shield, but you should wear it when sleeping for at least a week to prevent eye injury. Full recovery from cataract surgery should be complete in about a month, although it can take up to three months for your eye to be completely healed.
Can I travel? You cannot fly in an airplane or drive above 1000 feet elevation if you have an air or gas bubble in your eye. Talk to your doctor about the duration of this restriction.
Cautions. As long as there is a gas bubble in your eye you must not fly in an aircraft or travel to higher altitudes. The reduced pressure in the cabin of an aircraft or at higher elevations, will cause the gas to expand and increase the pressure in your eye.
Unless the patient is in poor health or has severe disease, nearly all vitrectomies are outpatient procedures performed either in a hospital or in a dedicated ambulatory surgery center; they involve little or no pain and require only minimal anesthesia.
Watching TV and reading will cause no harm. Your vision will remain blurred / poor for several weeks. Often the vision is distorted after surgery. This will vary depending on the type of operation, e.g. if a gas bubble is inserted into the eye, as the bubble shrinks you might see the edge of the bubble.
After surgery for retinal detachment
During the post-operative period: Your eye may be uncomfortable for several weeks, particularly if a scleral buckle has been used. Your vision will be blurry – it may take some weeks or even three to six months for your vision to improve.