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5 Reading Tips Following Retinal Detachment Surgery

elderly woman reading with glassesRetinal detachment is a potentially sight-threatening condition that requires immediate attention. When the light-sensitive retina has slipped out of its position, surgery is required to reattach it.  Recovery from surgery is lengthy and it may be weeks or months before vision is fully restored.

Patients often wonder how soon they will be able to read following retinal detachment surgery. The answer will depend on the severity of the detachment and the outcome of the surgery. In some cases, additional surgery may be required.

About Retinal Detachment Surgery

There are three types of retinal detachment surgery:

  • Pneumatic retinopexy - injecting a gas bubble into the eye to push the retina back into place
  • Scleral buckling - placing a belt-like structure around the white of the eye
  • Vitrectomy - replacing the aqueous humor with silicone oil

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Retinal Detachment Surgery?

Every patient will recover from surgery at a different pace, but most patients can resume some of their regular activities between 2 and 4 weeks post-op. For some people, it can take several months.

During this recovery period, it’s crucial to avoid doing things that require vigorous head movements. It will be a while before you will be able to:

  • Clean
  • Garden
  • Lift heavy objects
  • Engage in strenuous activities like a workout

Reading Tips Following Retinal Surgery

Vision in the affected eye or eyes is likely to be poor for weeks following surgery, making it difficult to read. Until the retina heals and holds its position, you may see bright spots or your vision could be blurry. However, reading or watching television won’t harm your eyes, and there is no reason not to try to read if you feel so inclined.

The following are some tips for reading following retinal detachment surgery:

1. Check Your Eyeglass Prescription

When your eye surgeon feels your eye has recovered, they will recommend having an eye exam to determine whether your eyeglass prescription is still right for you. It is possible that surgery has altered your optical prescription, so having updated eyeglasses will help you see and read more clearly.

2. Use Adequate Lighting

The retina contains layers of nerves that are sensitive to light. You may need more light to see and read than you did before your retina detached. Add some extra lamps and use fluorescent and halogen bulbs that illuminate reading material more effectively than incandescent bulbs.

3. Get Assistance from Screen Readers

In the days and weeks following surgery, when you are not yet able to read from books or a computer, use a screen reader, which converts written text into auditory recordings.

4. Find Large Print Books and Audiobooks

Make reading easier by reading from books with large print, or bypass reading altogether by listening to audiobooks.

5. Magnify Your Screen or Book

A magnifying device will make letters in printed material larger and more accessible. Your low vision optometrist can recommend specific low vision glasses or devices that can enlarge text and graphics to the extent you require.

Also, you may find it easier to read with the unaffected eye.  Reading with only the good eye will not harm either eye, so do not be afraid to read that way until the reattachment heals.

After surgery, patients want to resume their favorite activities, including reading, as quickly as possible. Your eye doctor will determine when your eyes and vision have recovered and you are ready to enjoy your daily activities based on your recovery from retinal detachment surgery. You will need some follow-up eye exams to ensure that your eyes are healing well and that your retina remains in position. To schedule an appointment, call us today.

Our practice provides low vision management, aids and devices to patients from Nashville, Lebanon, Kentucky, and Georgia, Tennessee and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jim Gillispie

Q: What Are the Risk Factors for Retinal Detachment?

A: The following are risk factors for retinal detachment:

  • - A previous case of retinal detachment
  • - Cataract surgery
  • - Eye injury
  • - Severe near-sightedness (myopia)
  • - Diabetic retinopathy
  • - Posterior vitreous detachment – the vitreous humor becomes separated from the retina
  • - Retinoschisis - the retina separates into two layers

Q: How Does an Optometrist Test for Retinal Detachment?

  • A: If an eye doctor thinks you may have retinal detachment, your eyes will be dilated so the optometrist can see the retina and the back of your eye. Eye drops will be placed into the eye to make the pupils wider. The eye doctor may press on the eyelids to check for retinal tears. In addition to the dilated eye exam, the optometrist may check your eye with ultrasound or an optical coherence tomography (OCT) examination to confirm whether the retinas are detached.

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