Face Down Recovery After Retinal Surgery

The retina is a layer of light-sensing cells lining the back of your eye. As light enters your eye, the retina processes the light, creates images and sends the images to your brain.

To repair a damaged or detached retina, your eye doctor may remove some of your eye’s vitreous (the gel-like substance that fills the inside of your eye) with a procedure called vitrectomy surgery. During this outpatient procedure, your eye doctor uses fine instruments to remove the vitreous gel and repair the retina. The eye is then filled with a special gas bubble to push against the retina and help repair the retina. With time, the bubble will gradually dissolve and is replaced with your normal eye fluid. During this time, you must keep your head facing downward or turned to a particular side for up to several weeks after surgery so that the bubble will remain in the right position. The positioning requirements are often full-time. If you lie in the wrong position, such as face-up, the bubble may not function properly to repair the retina and also pressure may be applied to other parts of the eye, causing further problems like cataract or glaucoma.

To assist you in keeping your face pointed downward, special equipment is available, including adjustable face-down chairs, tabletop face cradles, face-down pillows, and mirrors. Some insurance companies cover the cost of rental of this special equipment.

Be sure to discuss your options with your eye doctor.