What is a Vitrectomy?

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  • A vitrectomy is a procedure that treats disorders of the retina and vitreous. Vitrectomy refers to the removal of the vitreous, the clear, gel-like substance that fills the center of the eye. An eye care professional may recommend vitrectomy surgery to treat eye problems such as, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments, macular holes, epiretinal membranes, also called macular puckers, bleeding inside the eye, vitreomacular traction syndrome, which is when the vitreous is pulling or tugging the retina from its normal position, infection inside the eye, or to remove small pieces of a cataract left in the eye after cataract surgery. Before the procedure begins, local anesthesia and a mild sedative are administered for comfort and to keep the eye from moving. During the procedure, the surgeon inserts microsurgical instruments through tiny incisions made in the sclera, commonly known as the white of the eye. As the vitreous is removed, it is replaced with clear fluid, filtered air, gas bubble, or silicone oil. The fluid or gas is absorbed into the body over time and replaced by your natural eye fluid. If silicone oil is used, it does not reabsorb and is commonly removed in a few months following the procedure. Vitrectomy surgery is often performed in conjunction with other procedures, such as retinal detachment repair, macular hole surgery, and macular membrane peel. The length of the surgery depends on whether additional procedures are required, and the overall health of the eye.

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