While recovering from retinal detachment, people may need to avoid sudden head movements and certain activities, such as heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, or flying in an airplane.

Retinal detachment occurs if the retina comes away from the back of the eye. The retina is a layer of light-sensitive cells that communicates with the brain to allow sight.

Retinal detachment requires immediate treatment to prevent complications, but there are different types of surgery available.

During the recovery period for retinal detachment, people may need to keep their head in a certain position and avoid certain activities, such as being at high altitudes, scuba diving, and sports, which may increase the risk of eye injury.

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A detached retina is a medical emergency. If people notice any symptoms of retinal detachment, they need to contact an eye doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.

Without prompt treatment, a detached retina may lead to permanent vision loss.

While waiting for medical attention, a person needs to avoid:

  • touching or rubbing the eye
  • applying any pressure to the eye
  • attempting to self-treat
  • putting any ointments, medications, or eye drops on or into the eye

Symptoms of a detached retina include:

  • suddenly seeing flashing lights
  • the sudden appearance of new floaters, such as cobwebs, lines, or specks across the field of vision
  • a dark curtain covering part of the vision
  • a shadow in side vision

People need to follow any specific advice from a doctor, as activities to avoid may depend on the type of retinal detachment surgery they have had.

If treatment includes placing an air bubble in the eye, a person may need to keep their head in a set position for several days.

In general, people may need to avoid the following activities during the recovery period of retinal detachment:

  • flying in an airplane
  • being at high altitudes
  • strenuous exercise
  • heavy lifting
  • scuba diving
  • contact sports
  • driving, as vision may be blurry following a vitrectomy

People may also have to take time off work to recover from some retinal detachment procedures, which may be 2 to 4 weeks.

There do not appear to be any specific foods people need to avoid after retinal detachment.

However, those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol may have an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy. Without proper management, this condition may progress to retinal detachment.

Avoiding certain foods may help control blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. This may include:

  • avoiding or reducing saturated fats, such as animal-based products and palm oil
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding smoking
  • avoiding or limiting high glycemic index (GI) foods, such as processed foods and refined carbohydrates
  • limiting salty foods to reduce salt intake

Can a person watch TV after retinal detachment?

People can watch TV after retinal detachment if they feel comfortable. If they need to keep their heads in a certain position, such as face-down recovery after surgery, they may want to use a face-down mirror to help them see the screen.

How long can a detached retina go without treatment?

People will need to contact an eye doctor straight away if they have symptoms of a detached retina. Without prompt treatment, it could cause vision loss.

An eye doctor can tell, according to symptoms, when people need treatment, whether they can wait a day or so before an assessment, and whether they need immediate care.

What causes retinal detachment?

Older age and eye trauma and injuries are the most common cause of retinal detachment. Other risk factors include:

  • personal or family history of retinal detachment
  • eye surgery, such as cataract surgery
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • extreme nearsightedness
  • posterior vitreous detachment, when the gel-like substance in the eye comes away from the retina
  • certain eye diseases, such as retinoschisis or lattice degeneration

Retinal detachment is a medical emergency, so people need to contact an eye doctor immediately if they notice any symptoms. Prompt treatment can help prevent complications, such as vision loss.

While recovering from retinal detachment, it is important to avoid certain activities to allow the eye to heal properly. These may include strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, being at high altitudes, and driving. A person may also need to keep their head in a certain position while the eye heals.

People can discuss proper aftercare with a doctor and follow any instructions specific to the type of retinal surgery they have had.