Cryotherapy is an in-office or operating room procedure that involves briefly freezing the outer wall of eye (the sclera — the white part of the eye) over an area of retinal pathology.  A small metal probe is applied to the sclera and the cold temperature is transmitted through the sclera to the underlying retina.  The cold temperature helps form a small scar that causes the retina to adhere to the sclera and can be used to treat retinal tears or leaking retinal blood vessels.

The procedure requires a small injection of numbing medicine around the outside of the eye. After treatment, the eye can be red and sore for up to one week.  Cryotherapy is regarded as a very safe procedure but there are risks associated with the procedure including but not limited to new retinal tears or detachments, bleeding, or eye discomfort.