What is Vitrectomy Surgery?
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the clear jelly-like fluid that is located inside our eye, in many cases only a small amount of the fluid is removed whilst for others more fluid is removed depending on the reason why the fluid is accessed in the first instance. This fluid gives the eye its shape and appearance however in many instances the fluid must be reduced or removed for a number of reasons.
What is it Used For?There are several conditions that may necessitate the use of a vitrectomy. It may be that the fluid inside the eye contains debris, a foreign body or infection in which case it must be removed before further damage can result. Perhaps the fluid needs to be removed in order for other forms or surgery to be able to take place such as a biopsy of the surrounding tissue or to repair another damaged area, particularly the retina which can be accessed through the vitreous fluid. In many cases the problem is related to a person’s diabetes which can cause the tiny blood vessels to leak into the fluid therefore greatly reducing the person’s visual ability.
How is it Performed?This type of surgery is only carried to by very experienced surgeons who specialise in surgery of the eyes.
It usually requires the use of a general anaesthetic but in some cases a carefully placed local anaesthetic is all that is required meaning a much quicker return to normal activities for the patient. The type of anaesthetic offered depends on the reason for the surgery, the expected duration of the surgery and the patients individual health and medical history.
A vitrectomy may be performed as a secondary procedure to another type of surgery but can be performed alone as an independent procedure.
The operation involves making several very tiny incisions using highly specialised instruments and the use of a microscope. The incisions are made in the sclera which is the white part of the eye. The jelly-like substance is loosened away from the inside of the eye and is gently sucked away. The fluid can be replaced using either a combination of specially formulated oils or by using a gas bubble that is naturally absorbed over a period of time, however the fluid is not necessary nor a part of the eyes function and is not particularly essential.
Is it Serious?A vitrectomy is not a serious issue and often the thought of it is far worse than its removal for the patient. In many cases is serves as a necessary part of vital surgery that is far more serious and important in restoring or preserving the sight and function of the eyes.
What to Expect in the Recovery PhaseFollowing a vitrectomy you will be advised to take it easy for a few days and not undertake anything too strenuous that may increase the pressure to the eye area; this includes flying so don’t make any plans to travel until your doctor has told you it is safe to fly again.
You can resume gentle activities within a few days depending on the nature of the operation but expect around a 6 week period to make a full recovery.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure carried out on the fluid that is held in the eye. Often the removal of this fluid is carried out as part of another operation and not as an individual procedure.