Vitrectomy Surgery

Vitreoretinal surgery is used to treat a number of conditions.

Some of the most common conditions that may require a vitrectomy are:-

While these conditions may all require a vitrectomy, they are very different conditions and visual results can vary depending on the underlying condition and its severity.

Our specialist ophthalmic surgeons at Exeter Eye will always discuss your treatment options and expected outcomes with you so that you have the best idea what to expect after surgery.

Exeter Eye Vitrectomy diagramA Vitrectomy is a procedure that treats disorders of the retina and vitreous.

Vitrectomy refers to the removal of the vitreous, the clear, gel-like substance that fills the center of the eye.

An eye care professional may recommend vitrectomy surgery to treat eye problems such as, Diabetic retinopathy, Retinal detachments, Macular holes, Epiretinal membranes, also called macular puckers, bleeding inside the eye, Vitreomacular traction syndrome, which is when the vitreous is pulling or tugging the retina from its normal position, infection inside the eye, or to remove small pieces of a cataract left in the eye after cataract surgery.


A vitrectomy is a surgical treatment in which a doctor makes an incision in the eye and uses a small instrument to remove the gel and the blood that have accumulated in the vitreous as a result of retinal bleeding. The procedure is performed under local or general anaesthesia.

Before the procedure begins, local anesthesia and a mild sedative are administered for comfort and to keep the eye from moving. During the procedure, the surgeon inserts microsurgical instruments through tiny incisions made in the sclera, commonly known as the white of the eye.

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As the vitreous is removed, it is replaced with clear fluid, filtered air, gas bubble, or silicone oil. The fluid or gas is absorbed into the body over time and replaced by your natural eye fluid. If silicone oil is used, it does not reabsorb and is commonly removed in a few months following the procedure.

Vitrectomy surgery is often performed in conjunction with other procedures, such as retinal detachment repair, macular hole surgery, and macular membrane peel. The length of the surgery depends on whether additional procedures are required, and the overall health of the eye.

It is a relatively quick procedure that should take no more than one hour. In most cases you will be able to go home straight after surgery.

Vitrectomy: Post-Op

After a vitrectomy procedure, it is common to experience some mild discomfort for a few days. Most patients will wear an eye patch home to protect the eye. In most cases the patch can be removed the same evening before bedtime.

Once removed, eye drops are prescribed to ease pain and prevent infection. Your eye care professional may also suggest that you wear a plastic eye shield while sleeping at night or showering to avoid getting water or soap in the eye. For most patients who undergo a vitrectomy, sight is restored or significantly improved after several weeks of recovery.

However, for the first few weeks following the procedure patients may experience decreased vision in the treated eye, often due to a gas bubble that obscures the vision until it is gradually absorbed. The eye may also be red, sore, or irritated, but these symptoms gradually diminish over time.

An ice compress along with over-the-counter pain medication can help reduce some aching and soreness. If you have severe or worsening pain that does not respond to over-the-counter pain medications, you should contact your eye care professional immediately.

Recovery usually takes about six to eight weeks, although many people resume normal activities much sooner. It’s important to avoid bending, stooping, lifting objects over five pounds, or any strenuous activity for the first week. If a gas bubble is used, air travel is forbidden until the gas is absorbed over several weeks, and you should ask your eye care professional when you may fly again.

Because vitrectomy is performed for many different problems and often in conjunction with other eye surgeries, the recovery period can vary for each patient. Your eye care professional will be the best judge of your individual recovery, so make sure you follow their advice carefully.

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Important Information

Your surgeon will use the latest ‘no-stitch’ surgical techniques – this type of surgery means your eye will heal faster, and you should feel virtually no irritation after surgery.

Make an appointment today

Exeter Eye is a specialist ophthalmic eye clinic treating all eye conditions and offering the very best in patient care and comfort. We always ensure we fully understand your condition and lifestyle before identifying your treatment options and then help you choose the best one for you.

For more information or to discuss a vitrectomy, make an appointment with one of our eye specialists today. Simply fill out an enquiry form or call Exeter Eye on 01392 699969.

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