The most common retinal surgery is a vitrectomy. There are different diseases that can be treated using vitrectomy including retinal detachments, diabetic retinopathy, epiretinal membranes, macular holes, complications from cataract surgery and infections inside the eye.
What is a vitrectomy?
The vitreous is the clear gel-like substance that fills the interior of the eye and lies directly in front of the retina. Vitrectomy is used to remove the vitreous from the eye and is usually performed to treat diseases of the retina and the vitreous.
It is typically done in an operating room using local anesthesia. It is performed using an operating microscope. Tiny openings are created in the white part of the eye (sclera) and specialized instruments are inserted through these openings to perform the surgery. Specialized saline, gas or silicone oil is injected into eye to replace the vitreous gel at the end of the procedure.
The length of the procedure can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending upon the complexity of the procedure.
What to Expect After Surgery
There will be minimal discomfort after surgery; however, you may require over-the-counter pain relievers. An eye patch will be placed over the eye to be removed the following morning. Antibiotic and steroid eye drops will be prescribed. The vision will initially be blurry especially if a gas bubble or silicone oil is placed in the eye.
You should avoid strenuous activity, and your doctor will advise when to resume normal activities. Occasionally, your doctor may recommend that you keep your head in a certain position or sleep in a certain position.
Air travel and high altitudes are not allowed if a gas bubble is placed in the eye due to dangerous rise in eye pressure, which can lead to pain and loss of vision.
What are the risks of vitrectomy?
All surgery has certain risks; however, the benefits should outweigh the risks to your vision. Some of the risks include infection, bleeding, retinal detachment, worsening of cataracts and increased ocular pressure.