Background: The question addressed is: how does the postoperative visual acuity in eyes treated with segmental buckling compare over time with the paired fellow eyes?
Methods: 107 detachments were followed prospectively for 15 years. The eyes were divided into: group I, macula attached (46); group II, macula partially detached (10); group III, macula completely detached (51). Mean preoperative visual acuity was 20/30 in group I, 20/100 in group II, and 20/400 in group III. The operation consisted of segmental buckling without drainage. No eye had cerclage or vitrectomy.
Results: The retina remained attached in 99 eyes during the 15-year follow-up. The mean visual acuity of all patients improved six months postoperatively to 20/40 with a maximum of 20/30 at one year. Thereafter there was a linear decrease in all three groups.
Conclusions: Visual acuity improved during the first year, followed by a linear decrease of 0.07 line/year. The paired eyes decreased similarly in relation to age. There was no real difference in the visual acuity of the operated and unoperated eyes (P = 0.079) during the 15 years of follow-up. Mean visual acuity was 20/40 in the operated eyes of 72 patients who were living after 15 years. These data present a challenge to those surgeons who use techniques that include encircling the eye to review and compare their long-term visual results.