A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure for repairing retinal detachment, macular holes, epiretinal membranes, and diabetic retinopathy.
The vitrectomy procedure involves the removal of the vitreous gel from the middle of the eye. Using highly specialized instruments, a series of very small incisions are made into the sclera.This provides the retina specialist with access to the so that it can be repaired using microsurgical instruments.
This procedure is performed at the surgical suites inside the Southern Alberta Eye Center and Rocky View General Hospital as an outpatient procedure and typically only requires 60 minutes to complete. Patients can return home to recover on the same day as their vitrectomy surgery.
Following this procedure, your retina specialist may decide to place a gas or oil bubble in the eye to help hold the retina in place while it has a chance to heal. You may be asked to maintain a certain position during the recovery period (detailed further below) while the bubble is in place.
It is important to always follow directions given by your retina specialist for an optimal recovery
Recovery after a Vitrectomy
You can expect some discomfort and swelling after surgery. Your retinal specialist at Calgary Retina Consultants will prescribe you withany necessary medications you may require.
During the recovery period, you will be given a series of medicated anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops to administer to the affected eye, it is important to follow the directions of yourretinal surgeon with regards to duration and frequency of the drops. Typically, patients are required to use the prescribed eye drops during the post-operative period. The length of time recommended for using these drops differs between patients.
Immediately following surgery you will have an eye patch. Please do not remove this patch. During your post op appointment on the following day, a technician will remove this eye patch for you. However, you are strongly encouraged to wear an eye shield at bedtime for the first 2 weeks after surgery in order to protect your eye and assist in recovery.
After a vitrectomy, the gas bubble needs to be kept in the correct place until a seal forms around the tear or detachment in the retina. Some patients may need to keep their head and eye in the proper position for approximately 90% of the day for the first 1 to 3 weeks after the surgery. You cannot lie on your back or the bubble will move to the front of the eye, press against the lens, potentially creating more problems.
For the first 2 weeks after your retinal surgery, please take note of the following:
- All air travel is strongly not recommended.
- Driving any type of motorized vehicle.
- Avoid activities involving lifting weight over 5-10 lbs.
- Avoid activities involving bending at the waist (household chores, fitness/exercise, sports).
- Avoid going into pools, hot tubs, lakes or bathtubs. You may shower keeping your eye covered to avoid getting any water into the eye.
- Avoid reading or computer work. This also includes use of mobile devices such as iPhones, smart phones, and tablets.
- You may watch television as this involves less eye movement and strain but remain at a distance of at least 6 feet or more.
- You can expect some blurring of vision 4-6 weeks following surgery, and may experience an overall blurring for distance and reading. This should progressively improve.
Contact your physician right away if you notice any signs of complications after surgery, such as:
- A sudden decrease in vision.
- Increasing pain.
- Increasing redness.
- Excessive swelling around the eye.
- Any light sensitivity or discharge from the eye (other than clear/watering).
- Any new floaters, flashes of light, or changes in your field of vision.
If you have any additional questions about recovery following vitrectomy surgery, please contact your retinal surgeon or Calgary Retina Consultants directly.