What is a Vitrectomy?

Vitrectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the clear gel (the vitreous) that fills the eyeball. This procedure is usually done in order for the surgeon to reach through the eye to the retina, which is located on the inside back of the eyeball. A vitrectomy may also be performed to remove vitreous that is contaminated with blood, infection, or debris.

Like all eye surgeries, a vitrectomy is performed using very tiny instruments that can handle delicate and exact procedures within the eye, and the surgeon often uses a microscope to see them. The idea of removing the inside of the eyeball can be unnerving, but the vitreous is replaced with a saline or silicone solution and vision is not usually affected. A vitrectomy may be performed as part of treatment for:

  • Retinopathy
  • Retinal detachment
  • A macular hole
  • Cataracts
  • Infection or severe injury within the eye

During surgery, you will be given adequate anesthesia so you won't be aware of what is happening. After surgery, you may feel some discomfort as the eye heals. You may have to temporarily wear an eye patch to protect your eye, or use eye drops to help it heal. Depending on what kind of surgery you had, your vision may be blurry for a few days. You should feel better within a few days, but it may take more than a month for your vision to completely recover.

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