To repair a damaged retina, the doctor removes the vitreous gel from the eye and injects a gas bubble to take its place. This bubble holds the retina in place as it reattaches to the back of the eye. Once inside your eye, the gas bubble rises to the top and floats there. You will have to keep your head face down (parallel to the ground) or lie on one side for several days to a week after surgery to allow the bubble to stay in the correct position.
Since the retina lines the back of the eye, your head must be face down or to a specific side (depending upon your condition), so that the bubble floats in the correct position and holds the retina in place correctly. The surgery may not work unless you maintain the correct position. With time, the bubble disappears and is replaced with normal eye fluid. The doctor will tell you how long to maintain proper positioning of your head and eye. Lying in the wrong position can put pressure on other areas in the eye and may cause the development of further problems such as a cataract or glaucoma.
Unless the doctor otherwise advises, you must maintain the face-down position at all times. This includes when you are standing, eating, walking, sitting or lying in bed. When walking, be sure to have someone walk with you to avoid injury.
If you are sitting, try using a table for support to avoid back and neck discomfort. If you are lying down, try lying face down with your operated side hanging over your pillow to avoid pressure. You can also purchase or rent special equipment designed to make face-down recovery more comfortable and convenient. This equipment includes: adjustable face-down chairs, tabletop face cradles, face-down pillows, face-down mirrors.
The face-down chairs, cradles and pillows support your head or body so that you can read, write, sleep and eat more easily and comfortably during the recovery period. The face-down mirror allows you to see people and objects around you without having to turn them upside down. You can still watch television and have conversations with visitors. The doctor or a member of our staff can help you order the equipment or suggest other ways to make your recovery period more comfortable.