Vitrectomy Surgery

Vitrectomy is a type of eye surgery that treats disorders of the retina and vitreous, the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye. The vitreous is removed during vitrectomy and usually replace by a saltwater solution. This surgery may be recommended to treat diabetic retinopathy, some retinal detachments, infections inside the eye, severe eye injury, wrinkling of the retina, macular hole and certain problems after cataract surgery.

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Virectomy surgery often improves or stabilizes the vision by removing any blood or debris that may be blocking or blurring light as it focuses on the retina. It also removes scar tissue that can displace, wrinkle or tear the retina, thus reducing vision.

Vitrectomy surgery may require an overnight stay in the hospital. The length of the surgery may vary from one to several hours, depending on the condition of the patient. The surgery is performed while looking in the eye with a microscope using miniature instruments that are placed in the eye through tiny incisions in the sclera. The surgery may include one or more of the following:

  • Removal of all cloudy vitreous
  • Removal of scar tissue
  • Removal of any foreign object in the eye
  • Treatment of the eye with a laser to reduce future bleeding or to fix a tear in the retina
  • Placement of an air or gas bubble in the eye to help the retina remain in its proper position. The bubble will slowly disappear on its own.
  • Inject a special fluid that is later removed from the eye.

After surgery there may be some discomfort; it may be necessary to wear an eye patch and use eye drops for some time. If a gas bubble has been placed in the eye, it may be recommended that the patient keep the head in special positions until the gas bubble is gone.

Do not fly in an airplane or travel up to high altitudes until the gas bubble is gone, as a rapid increase in altitude can cause a dangerous rise in eye pressure. Vision after surgery will depend on many variables, especially if your eye disease caused permanent damage to the retina before the vitrectomy.