A vitrectomy is a type of eye surgery to treat various problems with the retina and vitreous. During the surgery, your surgeon removes the vitreous
and replaces it with another solution. The vitreous is a gel-like substance that fills the middle portion of your eye.
The retina is a layer of cells at the back of your eye. These cells use light to send visual information to your brain. Normally, the vitreous
should be clear, so light can pass through your eye and reach your retina.
Certain problems can cause blood and debris to block this light. Scar tissue in your vitreous can also displace or tear your retina. All of this
can impair vision. Surgeons sometimes do vitrectomy for a detached retina. Removing the vitreous gives better access to your retina and decreases
the tension on your retina.
During vitrectomy, your surgeon (an eye doctor called an ophthalmologist) uses small instruments to cut the vitreous and suction it out. Then your
eye doctor does any other needed repairs, like repairing a hole in your retina. He or she may place air or other gas into your eye to help
the retina stay in its proper position.
Why might I need a vitrectomy?
You might need a vitrectomy if you have one of the following eye problems:
A hole in the central part of your retina (macula)
A wrinkle in the central part of your retina
Certain problems after cataract surgery
All of these medical problems can cause vision loss. If not treated, some of them can even result in blindness. In some cases, vitrectomy can restore
lost vision. You might need a vitrectomy done in an emergency — an eye injury, for example. In other cases, your eye doctor might schedule
your vitrectomy in advance.
Vitrectomy may not be your only option if you have one of these medical problems, though. If you have diabetic retinopathy, for example, your eye
doctor might recommend a procedure called laser photocoagulation instead.
If you have a detached retina, you might be able to have laser treatment or a procedure called pneumatic retinopexy. However, if you have a complicated
retinal detachment, or if your eye condition has caused bleeding into your vitreous, you may be more likely to need a vitrectomy. Ask your
eye doctor about the benefits and risks of all your treatment options.