Admit it or not, our eyes tend to be one of the most overworked organs in our body considering that we are already in the age of advancing technology. One survey done in Singapore showed that the average number of hours that Singaporeans spend time on gadgets (mostly on smartphones) is 13 hours!

When we continually abuse and neglect taking good care of our eyes, we can be at risk of developing eye diseases. Aside from this, you can very well expect your eyes to be more sensitive and weaken with age. Our eyes are also exposed to physical injuries every day; it is extremely important that we deal with them gently, especially when we touch them!

Vitrectomy can be done in the unfortunate event that your eyes contract an illness that needs an operation.

Introduction to Vitrectomy Surgery

Vitrectomy surgery is a type of outpatient surgery done to the eyes. The procedure aims to restore the vitreous humor of the eye to its normal state. This can be done by removing the fluid and then replacing either some or all of it back into the eye.

What is Vitreous Humor?

Human eye anatomy

The vitreous humor is a transparent gel-like liquid that is found filling in the eyeball following the lens. It plays an important role in keeping the eyes protected and the retina in place.

How do I know if I need a Vitrectomy Surgery?

You can be a candidate for vitrectomy surgery when your eyes encounter any of the following injuries:

  • Bleeding inside of the eye
  • Central retinal tissue swelling
  • Complications after cataract surgery, such as developing a cloudy lens
  • Dislodged or misplaced intraocular lens as a result of an injury
  • Eye infections
  • Eye swelling
  • Loose retina
  • Macular degeneration
  • Retinal damage caused by diabetic retinopathy
  • Vitreous floaters
  • Scar tissue affecting the retina
  • Severe trauma to the eye

Aside from the reasons mentioned above, Vitrectomy Surgery is done prior to other eye surgeries, such as retinal corrections, to allow eye surgeons to gain access behind the eyes.

How do I prepare for a Vitrectomy Surgery?

A consultation with an eye surgeon is needed prior to any surgery. During this time, the eye surgeon will do a series of eye examination to determine the eye injuries that need to be addressed by the vitrectomy surgery. It is important that patients disclose everything concerning their medical history, including medications, to ensure their safety on the day of the procedure. Some medications may cause risks to the operation; hence the doctor may recommend to temporarily passing up its consumption before or on the surgery day.

Your eye surgeon should be able to inform you of the possible risks that you may encounter before doing the procedure. Likewise, your eye surgeon will advise you to take leave from work for several days in order to recover from the operation. After the surgery, you will need someone to assist you as your eyes will not be able to function fully.

Patients who undergo this type of surgery are told to do 8 hours fast before the day of operation. This means strictly no food and drinks intake for at least 8 hours in preparation for your surgery.

How is Vitrectomy Surgery performed?

Vitrectomy Surgery

At the start of your operation, a numbing liquid or anaesthesia will be administered to your eye to prevent it from feeling any pain during the procedure. After this, the eye will be dilated. Next, the area for the operation will be cleaned and sanitised with an antiseptic solution. Once this is done, the eye will be draped with a sterile covering. To protect the other eye that is not part of the surgery, a protective covering is placed on top of it. For the eye that needs an operation, an eyelid speculum is placed over it to keep it open.

As soon as everything is set, the eye surgeon will proceed to create a small incision that is 0.5 millimetres in the eye’s outer membrane. This enables the eye surgeon to gain access to the eye by way of the pars plana. Forceps will then be used to open the incision made.

To examine the eye, the eye surgeon will use a fibre-optic light and a microscope. These will be inserted to gain a better view of the eye. Next, a vitrector will be used to cut the vitreous gel, followed by the use of a suction tool to take away the gelatinous fluid.

Close-up of eye surgery and gloved hands

For removal of cloudy or bloody fluid, the eye surgeon will use a silicone-tipped needle to drain the fluid out. Scar tissues affecting the retina are removed with the use of forceps and scissors while treating irregular blood vessels or sealing of retinal tears are done with the use of a laser probe.

To replace the vitreous humor loss, the eye surgeon fills the eye with a vitreous substitute. This is can be likened to silicon oil or saline solution. After this, an antibiotic ointment is administered to the operated eye in order to protect it from possible infection. An eye patch is placed over the eye as it heals.

In some cases, the patient may be asked to move into a prone position after the surgery for a short period of time for monitoring.

Are there risks and side effects of the procedure?

Risks may be expected more from patients that have poor health immunity as well as those who have a long history of eye conditions. Otherwise, major complications are rare.

The following side effects may be expected after the surgery:

  • Allergic reaction to anaesthesia
  • An altered vision that may need eyeglasses for correction
  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Formation or worsening of cataract
  • Depth perception loss
  • Detachment of retina
  • Double vision
  • Eye infection
  • Eye swelling
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammation in the central part of the retina
  • An injury done during the surgery, such as incorrect incisions
  • Intraocular lens dislocation or discolouration
  • Macular pucker
  • Night vision loss
  • Pain in the eye
  • Reduction of eye pressure
  • Vision loss

How long will the recovery time be after the surgery?

The recovery time for patients varies depending on the number of procedures done to the eye.  The normal healing period for a vitrectomy surgery takes about a month or a month and a half.

What are the aftercare instructions that I need to be aware of?

Aftercare will also depend on the surgery done to your eye. Some patients may be asked to stay in a prone position for most parts of their recovery period to help their eyes heal completely. Usually, the doctor will prescribe topical ointments or eye drops to ease the eye’s swelling and avoid infection.

What are the activities that I should avoid?

Because the eye is at a very sensitive state after the surgery, patients are advised to avoid any physical activities that may put the health of the eye at risk. Avoid screen time, driving, exercise, and reading during the time that your eye is recovering. Don’t worry, this may only be for a few days right after the surgery.

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