Vitrectomy

The vitreous body is a sticky gel-like substance that fills most of the inside of the eyeball and gives it shape. The vitreous is clear and must remain clear in order for light to pass through it and reach the retina. A vitrectomy is a surgery to remove a portion of the vitreous fluid. It may need to be performed if:

  • Anything happens to the vitreous in one or both of your eyes that makes the fluid cloudy.

  • The vitreous is pulling on the structures it touches and risks tearing them.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including prescription medicines (especially blood thinners), vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or as creams).

  • History of bleeding problems and blot clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

  • If you have a fear of being in an enclosed or narrow space (claustrophobia).

  • If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

Any surgery on the vitreous is serious and carries risks that may affect your ability to see with the eye being operated on. The most serious complications include:

  • Infection or inflammation inside the eyeball after surgery. In very rare cases, inflammation may affect both eyes, including the eye that did not have surgery.

  • Bleeding in the vitreous that can cause limitation of vision or blindness.

  • Seeing small drifting specks in your field of vision (floaters).

  • Retinal tears or detachment.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

When emergency surgery is not required, you will have time to prepare for the procedure. The following are things you may need to do before the procedure.

  • Ask your caregiver about changing or stopping your regular medicines. You may need to stop taking blood thinning medicines or aspirin.

  • If you are given eyedrops, use them as directed to prevent infection and to dilate your pupil. The drops may make your vision blurry and may make your eyes sensitive to light.

  • You may need to remain in a certain position if you have bleeding in your eye or if you are at risk of a retinal detachment.

  • Do not eat or drink anything except small amounts of water for 8 to 12 hours before your surgery, or as directed by your caregiver.

  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery.

PROCEDURE

  • You will not have pain during the surgery, even if you are awake.

  • A very small instrument is used to cut the vitreous body if it is pulling on another structure in the eye. The same instrument is used to suction the fluid out of the eye if there is something in the fluid that is making it cloudy (like blood).

  • A laser or freezing probe may be used to remove scar tissue or to fix retinal tears.

  • Air, gases, or oil may be injected into the eye to make up for the volume of the vitreous removed.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You may be allowed to go home right after surgery, or you may need to stay overnight.

  • You will be given eyedrops to use and possibly some medicine for pain or discomfort.

  • Have someone drive you home. Do not drive until your caregiver says it is okay.

  • You may be asked to stay in a specific position for a period of time instead of being able to walk around.

  • You may see a large dark area in your field of vision. This is caused by the air, gases, or oil injected into your eye. This vision problem will go away with time.

  • You may have extremely blurry vision in the eye that was operated on.

  • Your pupil may be dilated. You may have light sensitivity and have trouble seeing things up close. Wear sunglasses outside to make it more comfortable.