What is Vitrectomy?

The most commonly performed in-theatre procedure is called a vitrectomy, which refers to the access route to the retina. During the surgery, the ophthalmologist carefully removes the vitreous gel in the centre of the eye in order to get access to and treat conditions affecting the retina. The procedure is very effective in treating a number of conditions, including diabetic eye disease, retinal detachments, macular holes, epiretinal membranes, and vitreous haemorrhage.

Vitrectomy works by cleaning out the eye, and getting rid of eye floaters, as well as vitreous haemorrhage. The vitreous fluid is a gel-like substance inside the eye, and while it is usually clear, certain eye diseases and conditions can cause it to become cloudy or bloody. When this happens, light that enters the eye is not able to reach the retina, which in turn decreases vision.

During vitrectomy surgery, after administration of an anaesthetic, the ophthalmologist will use a speculum to keep the eye open throughout the procedure. He will make a tiny incision in the eye through which an infusion line can be inserted. This infusion line ensures that the pressure in the eye remains constant during the surgery. A special surgical tool is then placed in the eye through which the vitreous fluid can be removed. Once all of the vitreous fluid has been removed and the problem has been resolved, the eye is filled with another fluid or gas. The ophthalmologist may administer antibiotic injections to prevent infections after surgery.

After surgery, it may take some time to fully recover, and the ophthalmologist may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications as well as antibiotics. It is usually necessary to wear an  eye shield or patch for the first day after the procedure. Some patients may need to posture in a specific way for a number of days after the surgery- this instruction will be clearly given if it is expected.