ProceduresVitrectomy

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Last updated 10/8/2019
Vitrectomy, Assil Eye Institute Los Angeles

What is a vitrectomy?

Vitrectomy is a surgical procedure in which a retina specialist removes the vitreous humor gel (the jelly-like fluid filling the eye cavity).

Typically, this procedure is the first step in another surgery to give your doctor better access to the retina lining the back of the eye. This allows your doctor to perform a variety of repairs.

A vitrectomy may also be performed to place a therapeutic device or medication directly into the eye or diagnose a condition affecting the vitreous or retina.

Why is a Vitrectomy performed?

 

A vitrectomy enables access to the back of the eye to carry out procedures including:

  • removing blood, scar tissue or a penetrating foreign object from inside your eye
  • using a laser to repair retinal detachments
  • treating holes or wrinkles in the central retina (called macular holes and puckers)
  • sealing off retinal blood vessels that are leaking (common in advanced diabetes)
  • treating serious eye infections
  • repositioning a dislodged artificial lens

 

What to expect during vitrectomy surgery

Vitrectomies are performed as part of an out-patient surgery. They involve little to no pain and are performed using minimal anesthesia. Typically, this involves using numbing eye drops and medication to help you relax (called twilight anesthesia).

 

Next, your eye is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and sterile drapes are applied. Your other eye is covered and protected. A special tool is applied to keep your operative eye open during surgery.

 

At AEI, your surgeon uses microscopic tools that are introduced through tiny openings made in the white part of your eye (called the sclera). These tools can include:

  • a very thin probe containing a microscopic camera
  • a light tipped probe to illuminate the inside of your eye
  • a special tool for carefully removing the vitreous gel (called a vitrector)
  • any other tool needed for whatever repair is required once the vitreous is removed (ie a laser probe to seal retinal tears or leaky blood vessels)

 

After the vitrector gently removes the vitreous gel, saline solution or gas is carefully pumped into the eye cavity in order to hold the retina in place and allow the surgeon to proceed with any required repairs. Once the work is complete, the eye is filled with either gas, saline or silicone oil. When gas or oil are used, the patient is required to keep their head in a certain position during recovery (usually face-down) to help the retina heal.

 

The good news is that having a vitrectomy is very well tolerated by most patients and has very little effect on your eye health. If the eye has been filled with gas or saline solution, this is gradually replaced by new fluid produced within your eye. If silicone oil was used to substitute for your vitreous, you’ll need a second surgery in a few months to remove the oil.

 

Vitrectomy surgery recovery time

Immediately following Vitrectomy surgery, most patients experience a mild sensation of having something in their eye. Severe pain is very rare unless there’s an unusual amount of inflammation or elevated eye pressure. Some short-term post-op symptoms can include eyelid swelling, eye redness and bruising around the eye. These improve rather quickly.

 

Some patients may notice a decrease in vision for a few days after surgery. It will gradually improve with time. If a gas bubble or silicone oil was used, it may take weeks to months for clear vision to return.

 

It’s important to plan to have someone take you home after surgery. Your doctor may instruct you to hold your head in a certain position to keep the gas bubble in your eye in just the right position to support your retina. If you have gas in your eye, you will not be able to fly above 2000 feet until the gas bubble has completely dissolved (this takes several weeks). This is because increased air pressure can cause the bubble to expand and damage your eye.

 

Vitrectomy risks

Serious complications following a vitrectomy are extremely rare. In fact, vitrectomies are successful well over 90 percent of the time. As advances in instrumentation and surgical techniques are made, the list of procedures that can be done in combination with a vitrectomy continues to grow.

 

Why trust AEI for vitrectomy surgery

The AEI staff includes a highly skilled Stanford trained retina specialist Dr. Svetlana Pilyugina or “Dr. P”, as she is known to her patients., Dr. Pilyugina is an ophthalmologist with fellowship training and board certification in diseases and surgery of the vitreous and retina.

 

Dr. P has been performing retinal surgery and laser therapy for over a decade and has considerable experience in the treatment of a broad range of retinal conditions.

  • Dr. Kerry Assil, Beverly Hills LASIK and Cataract Surgeon

    Kerry K. Assil, MD, is regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts in refractive surgery, having made significant advances in the field with his numerous inventions. Additionally he has the unique distinction of having trained thousands of eye surgeons in the latest refractive surgical techniques.

     

    Dr. Assil has authored more than one hundred textbooks, textbook chapters and articles on refractive surgery and has appeared regularly on major television network news programs as a pioneer in refractive surgery. He also leads educational forums for other eye care professionals, which have included featured lectureships at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and Tokyo University.

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