Vitrectomy is the surgical removal of the
vitreous gel from the middle of the
eye. It may be done when there is a
retinal detachment, because removing the vitreous gel
gives your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) better access to the
back of the eye. The vitreous gel may also be removed if blood in the vitreous
gel (vitreous hemorrhage) does not clear on its own.
vitrectomy, the surgeon inserts small instruments into the eye, cuts the
vitreous gel, and suctions it out. After removing the vitreous gel, the surgeon
may treat the
retina with a laser (photocoagulation), cut or remove
fibrous or scar tissue from the retina, flatten areas where the retina has
become detached, or repair tears or holes in the retina or
At the end of the surgery,
silicone oil or a gas is injected into the eye to replace the
vitreous gel and restore normal pressure in the eye.
always done by an eye doctor who has special training in treating problems of
Vitrectomy may require an overnight
hospital stay. But it may sometimes be done as
outpatient surgery. The surgery lasts 2 to 3 hours.
Your eye doctor will determine if the surgery can be done with
local or general anesthesia.
You may need to position yourself in a certain way at home for a while. Your doctor will tell you what position to lie in so that the gas or oil can push against the detachment.
Contact your doctor right away if you notice any signs of
complications after surgery, such as:
Vitrectomy may be done to:
Vitrectomy has been shown to greatly
visual acuity in many people who have severe vitreous
hemorrhage that has not cleared on its own. A vitrectomy can decrease the risk
of severe bleeding in people who have begun to have bleeding into the vitreous
gel. It can also reduce the risk of severe bleeding in people with growth of
abnormal blood vessels in the
In general, surgery can restore
some vision that is lost as a result of traction retinal detachment and may help
prevent further detachment. But the results tend to be better when the
detachment has not affected the center of the retina (macula) and the
central vision it provides.
Vitrectomy may cause elevated pressure inside the
eye (intraocular pressure, or IOP), especially in people who have
There are several other
serious, vision-threatening risks linked to vitrectomy. These
One of the main uses of vitrectomy
is to remove blood from the middle of the eye, a condition called vitreous
hemorrhage. When vitreous hemorrhage occurs, some doctors may recommend waiting
several months to a year to see whether the vitreous gel will clear on its own
before they do a surgery that can have serious complications.
But if the hemorrhage is causing severe vision loss or is preventing
treatment of severe retinopathy, surgery may be done sooner rather than
later. Some studies have shown that long-term results are better with early
There are a few ways to repair a retinal
detachment. The chance that each surgery type can help restore good vision
varies from case to case. The cause, location, and type of detachment usually
determine which surgery will work best. Other conditions or eye problems may
also play a role in the decision.
need more than one surgery to reattach the retina if scar tissue from the first surgery grows over the surface of your retina.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
August 7, 2011
Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine & Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
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