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Vitrectomy FAQ

Here we have answered common questions regarding vitrectomy operations.  If you have a question that isn't covered here, please contact us and we will do whatever we can to help answer your questions!















What is a vitrectomy?

A vitrectomy is a medical procedure in which gas or oil is inserted inside your eye as a replacement to a condensed and fibrous vitreous gel. A vitrectomy may be performed to clear blood and debris from the eye, to remove scar tissue, or to alleviate traction on the retina. This is an easy, painless procedure with a successful track record of improving or virtually restoring vision.

Why facedown?

Upon insertion, the gas bubble rises and applies pressure to the area that needs healing. However, since the retina is at the back of the eye, the gas bubble will only apply pressure to the top of the eye when looking up right, and not the retina. To correct this, Doctors advise keeping your head facing down. It is also very challenging to keep your  head face down while sleeping, and still experience the comfort you are used to.

Retinal Detachment

What is the retina?


The retina is a nerve layer at the back of your eye that senses light and sends images to your brain. An eye is like a camera. The lens in the front of the eye focuses light onto the retina. You can think of the retina as the film that lines the back of a camera.

What is a retinal detachment?

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position. The retina does not work when it is detached. Vision is blurred, like a camera picture would be blurry if the film were loose inside the camera. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes blindness unless it is treated.

What causes retinal detachment?

As we get older, the vitreous may pull away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye. Usually the vitreous separates from the retina without causing problems. But sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places. Fluid may pass through the retinal tear, lifting the retina off the back of the eye, like wallpaper can peel off a wall. The following conditions increase the chance that you might get a retinal detachment;

  • Near sightedness

  • Previous cataract surgery

  • Glaucoma

  • Severe injury

  • Previous retinal detachment in your other eye

  • Family history of retinal detachment

  • Weak areas in your retina that can be seen by your ophthalmologist

What are the warning signs of a retinal detachment?

These early symptoms may indicate the presence of a retinal detachment:

  • Flashing lights

  • New floaters

  • A gray curtain moving across your field of vision

These symptoms do not always mean a retinal detachment is present; however, you should see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Your ophthalmologist (medical eye doctor) can diagnose retinal detachment during an eye examination where he or she dilates (enlarges) the pupils of your eyes. Some retinal detachments are found during routine eye examination. Only after careful examination can your ophthalmologist tell whether a retinal tear or early retinal detachment is present.

What are the risks of surgery?

Any surgery has risks; however, an untreated retinal detachment usually results in permanent sever vision loss or blindness. Some of the surgical risks include:

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • High pressure in the eye

  • Cataract

Most retinal detachment surgery is successful, although a second operation is sometimes needed. If the retina cannot be reattached, then the eye will continue to lose sight and ultimately become blind.

Macular Hole

What is the macula?

A specialized area of the retina, called the macula, is responsible for clear, detailed vision. The macula normally lies flat against the back of the eye, like film lining the back of a camera.

What is a macular hole?

A macular hole is an abnormal opening that is formed at the center of the macula over a period of several weeks to months.

What causes a macular hole?

Most macular holes occur in the elderly. The vitreous gel within the eye pulls on the thin tissue of the macula until it tears. The torn area gradually enlarges to form a round hole. Less common causes of macular holes include injury and long term swelling of the macula. No specific medical problems are known to cause macular holes.

What are the warning signs of a macular hole?

In the early stages of hole formation, vision becomes blurred and distorted. If the hole progresses, a blind spot develops in the center of your vision, similar to the picture you would get if your camera film had a hole in it. Side vision remains normal, and there is no pain. It is uncommon for a macular hole to occur in both eyes.

What are the risks of surgery?

Some of the risks of vitrectomy from a macular hole include:

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Retinal detachment

  • High pressure in the eye

  • Some loss of side vision

  • Accelerated cataract formation

Will my vision improve?

A successful visual result often depends on how well the facedown position is maintained. The macular hole usually closes, and the eye slowly regains part of the lost sight. The visual outcome may depend on how long the hole was present before surgery. Vision rarely returns to normal.

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