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A vitrectomy is the surgical removal of the vitreous humour (jelly-like substance) inside your eye.

The vitreous humour substance has no real function and is usually clear. However trauma, a detached retina or in cases of diabetic eye disease the jelly-like substance can become cloudy, reducing your vision. A vitrectomy can also be used to take a sample of the substance for analysis in a laboratory.

What happens during a vitrectomy?

A vitrectomy is usually performed under general anaesthetic. It can take 1-2 hours. Sometimes the procedure is done under local anaesthetic.

Your surgeon will make very tiny cuts in the sclera (white part) of your eye. They will use a very tiny microscope to view the area and very gently break up the substance. They will slowly remove it by suction. Any foreign bodies will also be removed. If you have diabetic eye disease any leaking blood vessels will be sealed using a laser.

Vitreous humour does not naturally redevelop. To fill the area your consultant may use gas, clear silicone, air or saline. Any wounds will be closed using very fine, dissolvable stitches. Any substance used to fill the area will be absorbed and replaced by a clear fluid called aqueous humour.

Vitrectomy may be performed as a day case. In some cases patients spend one night in hospital.

Going home after vitrectomy

Please arrange for someone to take you home when you are discharged. Your vision may not be clear for several weeks. It can sometimes take 4-6 weeks before seeing a long term result. In some cases this procedure is used to stabilise current vision (prevent it from becoming worse).

Your eye may be sensitive, red and swollen for up to two weeks following your surgery. Take over the counter pain relief such as paracetamol. Be sure and use any eye drops as prescribed. Drops help prevent infection and inflammation.

You may need to position your head in a tilted position for up to 50 minutes every hour for 4-14 days following your procedure. This insures the gas or fluid lies against the treated area of your eye. We will give you special neck pillows to help you keep this position.

You will need to return for a follow-up appointment 1-2 weeks after your operation. Depending on your progress additional appointment may be necessary.

Most patients make a full recovery following vitrectomy. Complications from vitrectomy can include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts or clouded vision
  • Decreased vision.

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