Vitreoretinal Eye Surgery

What is vitreoretinal eye surgery?

eye surgery in operating theatre

Vitreoretinal surgery refers to any surgical procedure that treats eye problems involving the inner eye that includes the retina, macula, and vitreous fluid. The retina is a tissue in the inner eye; the macula is the light sensitive central area in the retina; the vitreous fluid is a gel-like substance that fills the space between the lens and the retina. Vitreoretinal surgery is often performed by an ophthalmologist to treat macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and diabetic retinopathy.

When should I see a specialist for vitreoretinal eye surgery?

You should seek the immediate attention of an eye care specialist if you experience any sudden change in vision. If you experience blurred vision, a reduction vision, flashes of light, or “floaters” which appear to be dot or specks that drift in and out of your vision you should contact a medical professional.

Many issues, including retinal detachment, are painless. These symptoms require an exam to rule out series eye conditions. Individuals older than 50, people who are significantly nearsighted, or those with a family history are at a greater risk. Vision problems such as retinal detachment need emergency treatment to prevent permanent vision loss.

Enquire with our ophthalmologists.

Did you know?

An intact vitreous gel contributes to a healthy human eye. As we age, the gel changes, which can contribute to many eye conditions including diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, age-related macular degeneration, nuclear sclerotic cataract, and primary open-angle glaucoma.¹

What are the risks of vitreoretinal eye surgery?

All surgeries have a risk of complications including those used to treat vitreoretinal eye conditions. Some of the risks include elevated intraocular pressure, formation of cataracts, bleeding, inflammation of the interior of the eye (endophthalmitis), and infection.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

Adults and adults accompanying children should bring previous eye test results and medical history information. If the patient has undergone any eye procedures or surgeries, you should be prepared to discuss the diagnosis and treatment with the specialist.

The appointment may include having the eyes dilated as part of the exam. In those cases, having a friend or family member available to drive you home is helpful. Additionally, when you make the appointment ask if there are any special instructions to follow and bring a list of any questions you want to ask.

What can I expect during vitreoretinal eye surgery?

elderly woman with glasses

There are several different surgical techniques that are available and your specialist will determine which treatment will be the most effective for your specific condition. Most of these procedures are offered via day surgery. In some cases, a second procedure may be necessary for successful treatment. The surgical techniques include:

· Laser surgery (Photocoagulation) to burn the area around the retinal tear that creates a scar to join the retina to the underlying tissue.

· Freezing (Cryopexy) that is used on the outer surface of the eye over the retinal tear to create a scar that secures the retina. This involves injecting air or gas into the eye.

· Pneumatic retinopexy injects a bubble of air or gas into the center part of the eye to push the selected areas of retina to the wall of the eye which prevents fluid from entering the space behind the retina. Fluid that has collected will be absorbed. In order to keep the bubble in the correct position, you will need to hold your head at a certain angle or position for a period of time. This procedure can be combined with Cryopexy.

· Scleral buckling is a procedure to suture a piece of silicone material to the outside of the eye to push or “buckle” the sclera to the middle of the eye. This lessens the pull on the retina which allows the retina to touch the wall of the eye. The buckle may only cover a portion of the eye or may go around the entire eyeball.

· Vitrectomy is performed by a ophthalmologist to drain the vitreous fluid. Air, gas or a silicone oil is placed into the vitreous space to flatten the retina against the eye wall. Over time, the body will replace with air, gas or oil. In some cases, the oil may be surgically removed at a later date.
What happens after my vitreoretinal eye surgery?

Depending upon the surgery, you may need to be warded overnight for observation; other surgeries are completed as day surgery. Many surgeries require that you keep your head in a certain position for a period of time. The head position and time requirements will be discussed with you and your ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist will also discuss your recovery time and when you can resume normal activities. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled.

Request an appointment with an ophthalmologist today.

[1] Holekamp Nancy M. MD. The Vitreous Gel: More than Meets the Eye. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2010: Volume 149, Issue 1, Pages 32-36.e1.