In most cases, it will be sufficient to use a gas bubble to reattach your retina. There are 2 types of gas bubble commonly used in retinal detachment vitrectomy surgery:
SF6 gas which can stay in your eye between 2-3 weeks before completely absorbing
C3F8 gas which can remain between 8-10 weeks before completely absorbing.
For up to half of this time, you will have very limited vision in the eye, being generally only able to see hand movements in the middle of your vision. As the gas bubble absorbs, your vision will become clearer, particularly in the top part of your vision. You will become aware of a line in your vision resembling a spirit level, and it may feel as though you are seeing “underwater”. The gas will progressively absorb until just a small bubble is noticeable in the bottom of your vision before it also completely disappears.
If an oil bubble is used, then you will generally have better albeit limited vision in the post-operative period compared with receiving a gas bubble. Oil is used for more complex retinal detachments and is usually left for 2-3 months before removed. The timing of oil removal will be individualised to the needs of your eye specifically. Cataract formation is very common with oil use, and I usually combine the removal of silicone oil with cataract surgery in one sitting. There is a small risk of retinal re-detachment following the removal of silicone oil. In many centres, it is customary to simply remove the oil (+/- cataract) at this stage, without any specific immediate search for any new retinal breaks which would result in retinal re-detachment. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to be aware of oil bubble floaters in the vision following oil removal with this approach. I, however, prefer to remove oil in a more methodical, time-consuming and detailed fashion in which I combine the removal with a very careful inspection for any additional unexpected retinal breaks or other pathology that requires treatment. I also routinely perform additional measures to ensure that as much as possible of any remaining tiny oil bubbles are removed at this sitting, in order to minimise the risk of annoying oil floaters in your eye after oil removal surgery.