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Detached Retina and Diving

DAN discusses eye surgery for divers.I recently had a detached retina repair. My vision has returned to normal, but I have a couple of black spots in my field of vision. My ophthalmologist has said that after two months I can return to all of my normal activities without restrictions. What is the waiting period before it is safe to return to diving?

As divers (or any such groups) age, the risk of retinal detachment increases.

The eye's inner surface - the space between the retina in the back of the eye to the eye's lens through which images and light pass - is filled with a thick liquid called the vitreous humor. This fluid helps keep the retina in place.

As we get older, inconsistencies in the thickness of the vitreous humor can allow parts of the retina to pull away and even detach from the eye. Once this happens, the neural relays can no longer accurately relay to the brain what the eye sees. This may result in wavy, blurred vision or even loss of sight. Although you may experience a retina detachment in other ways, from severe nearsightedness or from trauma to the eye, detachment through aging is probably the best-known contributor.

The physician determines the means of reattachment, but vision usually returns to normal more quickly when individuals seek immediate evaluation and correction of the problem. After surgery, it is not unusual to see some black spots - small pieces of tissue from the retina called "floaters" that are suspended in the vitreous humor. They can be annoying, but they usually resolve over time.

Scuba diving neither causes nor contributes to retinal detachment in the normal eye. Without further problems, most divers can make a return to diving after a two-month waiting period.