About Vitrectomy Surgery

Vitrectomy is an eye surgery used to treat retinal diseases. It involves the clear, jelly-like fluid (vitreous) that fills the back of the eye. The vitreous gives shape to the eyeball just like air gives shape to a balloon. But in some diseases, it becomes cloudy or starts pulling on the retina. In these cases, the vitreous may need to be replaced. Vitrectomy is the surgery used to remove and replace this fluid.

Conditions treated with vitrectomy:

  • Vitreous hemorrhage
  • Severe eye trauma
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Retinal Detachment
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity

Before the Surgery:

  • Get a complete physical examination
  • Get your eyes screened by a surgeon. The surgeon will look at the vitreous and determine the best anesthesia
  • Find out if you will have to stay overnight in the hospital

During Surgery:

The surgery lasts 1-2 hours and involves the following steps:

  1. An injection to numb the eye
  2. Removal of the vitreous
  3. The vitreous will immediately be replaced by salt solution, gas, or silicone oil
  4. Tiny stitches may be used to close the wound

After the Surgery:

After surgery, the salt solution or gas bubble will slowly disappear. It will be replaced by fluid made by the eye. If your eye was filled with silicone oil (instead of salt solution or gas), the oil must be removed in 3-6 months.

  • Use your eye drops as instructed by the doctor
  • Avoid heavy work for a few days
  • Do not lift heavy objects for a few days after the surgery
  • Patients treated with gas should:
    • Lie down or sleep on their stomach for 15 days
    • Tilt the head/face down while sitting
    • Avoid traveling by airplane for 45 days. At such high altitudes, the eye pressure can rise dangerously. You may use bus or train instead.
Instructions for patients treated with gas

If I get vitrectomy surgery to fix a retinal detachment, will I regain my vision fully?

It depends. If the center of the retina was damaged or if the detachment was only treated in a later stage, complete visual recovery cannot be guaranteed. But, there is a chance that your vision will gradually improve.

Will I have any side effects from the silicon oil in my eye?

A few patients might experience double vision. This improves after the oil is removed (3-4 months after surgery).

What will happen if the silicon oil is left in the eye?

There is a high chance that cataracts will form. The eye pressure can also increase, causing nerve damage and eye pain.

Can I have a gas injection? I don’t want silicon oil because I have to get another surgery to remove it.

That decision can only be made by a surgery. Based on the condition of your eye, one option might be better than the other. It is better to use the filling that is best for your eye health than to try and avoid another surgery.

What will happen if I choose to not get the surgery?

The retinal detachment will progress. You may lose your vision completely as the retina becomes more damaged. You can also develop cataract. If you have uveitis or glaucoma, you may experience eye pain. In the long run, your eyes might even shrink.

Surgery offers a chance to improve your sight. Without it, your eyes will only get worse.

How many days will I stay in the hospital?

You will stay for 2-3 days after the surgery.

How many days will I have to tilt my head and lie on my stomach?

For 7-15 days.

How long will I spend in the recovery area after surgery?

This will vary depending on how you feel and the duration of the surgery. At Aravind, patients usually spend 1-3 hours in the recovery room.