A vitrectomy is one of the procedures used to repair a detached retina. This procedure removes portions of the vitreous. This is sometimes necessary when the vitreous, a thick, transparent substance that fills the center of the eye, blocks the surgeon’s view of the detached retina. This procedure may also be necessary when retinal scarring limits the effectiveness of other retinal detachment procedures.

Preparing for Surgery

Patients will need to make arrangements for a ride home after the procedure. The doctor will advise patients of any medications they need to stop taking prior to the procedure. Doctors will also advise about limiting solids and liquids beforehand. Patients will need to wear protective eyewear for a certain amount of time afterwards as well.

What Happens During Surgery?

The surgeon will insert a light probe, a cutter and an infusion tube into the eye’s interior through tiny incisions in the sclera, or white of the eye. Guided by a light from the probe, the surgeon will remove scar tissue or opaque areas of the vitreous with the cutter, while the infusion tube replaces the volume of removed tissue with a balanced salt solution to maintain the normal pressure and shape of the eye.

After completing the vitrectomy, the surgeon also may perform a scleral buckling procedure and fill the inside of the eye with air, gas or silicone oil to help seal the retina against the wall of the eye. Most vitrectomy procedures are done under local anesthesia.

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