Scleral Buckle

The retina is the layer of cells located at the back of the eye that is responsible for using light to send visual signals to your brain, which is then interpreted into the images you see. For a number of reasons, the retina can become torn or detached. Scleral buckling is one of the surgical procedures used to repair a retinal tear and detachment and prevent permanent vision loss.

What Is a Scleral Buckle?

A scleral buckle is a small, flexible band placed around the white part of the eyeball (the sclera) at the location of the tear or detachment. The purpose of the band is to gently push the sides of the eye inward closer to the retina to help with reattachment. In most cases, the band will remain in place permanently.

How Is Scleral Buckle Surgery Performed?

During the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in the outer layer of your eye. A silicon band is then placed around this outer layer of the eye and kept in place to prevent it from moving.

Depending on your situation, your surgeon may also perform one of the following procedures to repair a tear:

  • Laser photocoagulation – A laser beam is used to burn the area around a retinal tear to create scar tissue that seals the tear.
  • Cryopexy – Extreme cold is used to freeze the outer surface of the eye in the area of the tear to produce scar tissue that will seal the retinal break.

Occasionally, a gas bubble is inserted into the eye to provide outward pressure against the retina to facilitate reattachment to the back of the eye.

Your surgeon may also drain any remaining fluid from behind the retina to reduce the risk of a future detachment.

Recovery Time

Most often, the surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. After surgery, your eye may feel sore, but over-the-counter pain relievers should help. You will wear a patch over the treated eye for at least a day after surgery. You will need to avoid getting water in the eye for the first week and avoid strenuous activity for at least two weeks.

Are There Any Risks With a Scleral Buckle Surgery?

Scleral buckle surgery has been performed for more than 60 years with positive results, but all surgeries have some risks. Complications related to scleral buckle surgery can include:


  • Infection
  • Re-detachment of the retina
  • Development of glaucoma (elevated eye pressure)
  • Scarring of the retina
  • Development of cataracts
  • Double vision
  • New retinal tears

Other Treatment Options

Other treatment options available for repairing a detached retina include:

These treatments are available from the surgeons at the Dean McGee Eye Institute who will be happy to discuss with you which surgical option is best for your particular case.

Scleral Buckle Surgery at the Dean McGee Eye Institute

For 45 years, the Dean McGee Eye Institute has been a leading provider of eye and vision care, combining advanced surgical technology, precise technique, and unparalleled expertise to ensure superior care for every patient we treat. Browse our online provider directory to learn more about our retina and vitreous surgeons or call 405.271.1092 or 800.787.9014 to schedule an appointment. Our team of compassionate retina specialists would be honored to provide you with the eye care you need.