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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    When is safe to fly after scleral buckling ?

    Hi, I was hit in my eye with a blunt object which caused retinal detachment and bleeding in my eye. I had repair of the retina with scleral buckling and cryotherapy of the retina with an external probe, gas wasn't put in my eye. I should fly 15weeks after surgery long haul flight. So far I don't have any post surgery complications, but still, can see sometimes floaters and when I am lying in bed at the night time I still can see flashing lights. Thank you for your answer.
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    Dr John H. Chang

    Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

    Dr John Chang is a Sydney-based ophthalmologist with specialist training in cataract surgery, medical retina and comprehensive ophthalmology. At his Strathfield practice, Dr Chang provides … View Profile

    It is quite safe to fly after having had scleral buckle surgery. However, it is very important to highlight that it is NOT safe to fly if you have gas bubble inside your eye, which is common after some forms of Vitreous-Retinal surgery. But you specifically have said in your question that you have not had gas put in your eye and that you haven’t had any post surgery complications, and so in very general terms, it sounds like you would be fine to travel overseas. 

    It is always sensible however to ensure that your treating/operating surgeon is happy with the stability of your condition and get their OK before you travel. You certainly have suffered very severe eye trauma and this places you at risk of late complications even after the initial operation, including risk of glaucoma, cataract and re-detachment of the retina.The main issue with such overseas travel is in case you run into unexpected problems and in which case it is much more difficult to see an eye specialist promptly in a foreign place or where the standard of medical care may not be as high as in Australia. Also, your eye condition would be classified as a “pre-existing” condition by your travel insurance and so any problems you have related to this whilst abroad is unlikely to be covered by insurance. So key message is to check with your surgeon and insurer before you travel, especially if extended period away.

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