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What happens during a vitrectomy?

Before Surgery

Your ophthalmologist will decide whether local or general anesthesia is best for you. You may have to stay overnight in the hospital. Before surgery you will need to have a physical examination to alert your ophthalmologist to any special medical risks.

A painless ultrasound test may be performed before the surgery to view the inside of the eye.

Vitrectomy Surgery

The length of the operation varies from one to several hours, depending on your condition. In certain situations, your ophthalmologist may do another surgical procedure at the same time, such as repairing a detached retina or removing a cataract.

Your ophthalmologist performs the operation while looking into your eye with a microscope. Various miniature instruments are placed into the eye through tiny incisions in the sclera (white part of the eye).

In order to get the best possible vision for you, your ophthalmologist will do one or more of the following:

  • Remove all cloudy vitreous
  • Remove any scar tissue present, attempting to return the retina to its normal position
  • Remove any foreign object that might be in the eye
  • Treat the eye with a laser to reduce future bleeding or to fix a tear in the retina
  • Place 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)
  • Place silicone oil in the eye, which usually requires later surgical removal

After Surgery

You can expect some discomfort after surgery. You will need to wear an eye patch for a short time. Your ophthalmologist will prescribe eyedrops for you and advise you when to resume normal activity.

If your surgery requires a gas bubble to be placed in your eye, your ophthalmologist may recommend that you keep your head in special positions until the gas bubble is gone.

DO NOT FLY IN AN AIRPLANE OR TRAVEL AT HIGH ALTITUDES UNTIL THE GAS BUBBLE IS GONE! A RAPID INCREASE IN ALTITUDE CAN CAUSE A DANGEROUS RIDE IN EYE PRESSURE.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.