What is vitrectomy?

The vitreous humor lies between the inner surface of the retina and the posterior aspect of the lens. When the vitreous humor is damaged, vitrectomy, a surgery usually performed under local anesthesia with sedation, is performed to replace the vitreous humor with a saline solution.

Why is vitrectomy performed?

The function of the vitreous humor is to protect the retina so that its surface remains uniform, thus achieving correct vision. Occasionally, this gelatinous mass becomes opaque making vision difficult. This can be caused by:

  • Retinal detachment
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Secondary problems or inflammation of the eye
  • Eye injuries or trauma, macular holes, macular diseases or macular degeneration with neovessels.
  • Cataract surgeries with complications (occasionally)
  • Complications of uveitis
  • Pathologies related to high myopia

This operation is performed only when vision has decreased considerably and prevents the patient from following a normal rhythm of life.

What does vitrectomy consist of?

First, small incisions are made in the sclera (outer layer of the eye) to introduce delicate instruments into the eyeball. These instruments include a fiber optic light, an irrigation cannula and an instrument to cut and remove the vitreous. Once the vitreous is removed, it can be replaced with air, gas or liquid silicone oil, depending on the pathology.

The procedure usually lasts between one and two hours and, in some cases, another parallel surgery must be performed to perform other parallel procedures, such as corneal transplantation or cataract removal.

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Preparation for vitrectomy

Prior to vitrectomy, a detailed ocular examination should be performed, usually with an ultrasound to show the condition of the ocular tissues. Other tests that may be performed are Retinal Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), fluorescein angiography or an electrophysiological test.

Care after surgery

Once the surgery is completed, the occlusion patch is usually removed after a few hours. The main postoperative symptom is eye pain, but this can be treated with eye drops and ointment to prevent intraocular inflammation.

In case gas has been introduced, you should not travel by plane or reach heights of more than 800-1,000 meters abruptly. It is also advisable to stay face down or on your side, never face up, for a few days.