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For the Traveller

Ocular emergencies

After retinal surgery

Post-operative infection

Sudden loss of acuity demands an urgent visit to a specialist



angle closure

halos around lights,
pain, nausea, vomitin

corneal abrasion

pain, foreign body
sensation under
the upper lid

retinal tear

flashing lights, new floater

retinal detachment

flashing lights,
floaters and a dark
curtain across the
field of vision

vitreous hemorrhage

new floaters; hazy vision

macular degeneration

blurring with distortion


pain, loss of vision
after surgery
or trauma

After retinal surgery: Ask your surgeon if it’s safe to fly

Many retinal procedures include an injection of air or expansile gas into the globe to support the retina while it heals.  Air and gases expand at elevation, and with air-travel, the gas expands but the eye doesn’t, resulting in extremely high pressures in the eye that can shut off the blood circulation and cause permanent blindness.         

Activity.  Wait 6 weeks before returning to strenuous exercise.  It takes 6 weeks to develop an adequate bond between the treated detached retina or tear and the wall of the eye.

Risk of infection

The onset of infection after eye surgery peaks at 72 hours after surgery – but may still arise even after several weeks (especially with suture-less surgery or surgical complications)

Always know how to contact your surgeon in an emergency.  When outside of your local community, seek support at university-affiliated health centers that maintain 24/7 coverage of for ophthalmic emergencies.

  Even so, your own surgeon may have a contact or supply the necessary details to help other specialists manage your case.