What Is a Vitrectomy Procedure and When Is It Needed?

An operation that is conducted to remove, from the inside of the eye, the vitreous gel is called a vitrectomy. This is necessary when there are procedures that must be done but cannot take place with the fluid in its place. The vitreous is a jelly like and clear substance that takes up about two thirds of our eyes, it is found between the lens and the retina. It is composed of over ninety percent water but also contains proteins, collagen fibers and hyaluronan.


When Is It Necessary to Have a Vitrectomy?

There are various eye conditions that require a vitrectomy, the most common ones are listed below:

  • Vitreous Hemorrhage
  • Primary Retinal Detachment Repair
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • PVR (Retinal Detachment with Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy
  • Preretinal Membrane
  • A Severe Eye Infection
  • Trauma to the Eye
  • A Dislocated Lens
  • Macular Hole

An experienced ophthalmologist will thoroughly assess and carefully look into your condition to decide whether or not a vitrectomy will be a necessary part of your treatment process or not. Most doctors prefer using surgery as a final option.

The Procedure

The procedure will take place in a hospital with the use of either a local or general anaesthetic. There are three tiny opening made to the sclera and instruments which are delicate are inserted directly into the eye. With the use of vitreous cutters, scissors and forceps the vitreous gel as well as any scar tissue which is growing in the retina’s surface is removed. During the operation, a fiberoptic illuminator is used to light the interior of the eye.

The vitreous gel is then replaced with either air, a saline solution or gall, overtime all of these will be replaced by the eyes own fluid. The virtuous will not grown back into the eye and there is no problem with the perfect function of the eye without it. There are times when at the end of the procedure, heavy liquid or silicone oil is inserted into the vitreous cavity, at a later date this will require a second procedure to remove it. On occasion, to assist with the reattachment of the retina, a silicone band will be encircled around the eyeball.


Most of the time this is a same day operation, there are however times when a patient is required to stay overnight. After surgery, the visual recovery can vary greatly from one patient to the next, what mainly factors in is the underlying condition that required the vitrectomy in the first place as well as the substance that was inserted into vitreous cavity once the surgery was completed. Your expected recovery time is explained to you in detail by your ophthalmologist as well as long term vision quality and air travel details. Many people spend a lot of time relaxing which helps to recover from vitrectomy surgery.

Risks and Complications

With the use of modern surgical techniques, the risks associated with vitreous surgery are very small, that being said, as with any surgical procedure, there can be complications that occur on occasion. The best way to find out details on these possible risks and complications is by consulting your ophthalmologist.