Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
Is it OK to fly with a previously laser-repaired retinal tear that was a result of trauma?  

Answer:
Two key factors to consider are 1) what type of repair was done, and 2) when did the repair take place.

Flying poses a risk to anyone who has had gas injected into their eye during a procedure. At higher altitudes, whether reached via walking, driving or flying, injected gas in the eye will expand with a potentially damaging and painful increased eye pressure. Although commercial airplane cabins are pressurized, the amount of pressurization is typically inadequate to prevent such an event. To get a sense of this mechanism in action one can observe this dramatic process by watching an unopened bag of snacks expand as an airplane reaches higher altitudes.

A history of laser treatment for a retinal tear by itself usually does not pose a risk when flying because the laser treatment does not involve injecting gas into the eye. However, if you have undergone any such eye procedure we urge that you consult your ophthalmologist (also known as an Eye M.D.) who is specially trained in the diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases of the eye before attempting any such travel.

Answered by: Andrew Iwach, MDDr. Andrew Iwach  

Categories: General Eye Health; Eye Surgery

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Answered: May 21, 2012

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