What is vitrectomy?

Vitrectomy is a type of eye surgery that treats disorders of the retina and vitreous. The vitreous is removed and replaced by a saltwater solution.

Your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) may recommend vitrectomy surgery to treat the following eye problems:

  • Certain problems after cataract surgery
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Infection inside the eye
  • Macular hole
  • Severe eye injury
  • Some retinal detachments
  • Wrinkling of the retina (macular puckering)

the Surgery process

Your ophthalmologist will decide whether local or general anesthesia is best for you. You may have to stay overnight in the hospital. You will need to have a physical examination to alert your ophthalmologist of any special medical risks. An ultrasound may be performed before to view the inside of the eye.

The length of surgery varies from one to several hours, depending on the patient's condition. In some situations our ophthalmologist may do another surgical procedure at the same time such as: repairing a detached retina or removing a cataract. Various miniature instruments are placed into the eye through tiny incisions in the sclera (white part of the eye).

Your ophthalmologist will do some of the following to get the best vision: remove all cloudy vitreous, remove any scar tissue present, remove any foreign objects, treat the eye with a laser to reduce future bleeding, fix a tear in the retina, place an air or gas bubble in the eye to help retina remain in its proper position, and inject a special fluid that is later removed.

Expect some discomfort. An eye patch must be worn for a short period of time. Eye drops will be prescribed for you and your ophthalmologist will advise you when to resume to normal activity. If a gas bubble was placed in your eye, you are advised to keep your head in special positions until its gone. Flying and traveling to higher altitudes are not advised because a rapid increase in altitude can cause a dangerous rise in eye pressure.


The following are possible risks:

  • Bleeding
  • Cataract is uncommon right after surgery- elderly patients often develop cataract over many months
  • High pressure in the eye
  • Infection
  • Poor vision
  • Retinal detachment

How can a vitrectomy improve vision?

Your vision after surgery will depend on many variables, especially if your eye disease caused permanent damage to your retina before the virectomy. Your ophthalmologist will discuss your situation with you and how much improvement in your eyesight is possible.

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