What is a Vitrectomy?

A vitrectomy is a surgical technique used to cure diseases that affect the transparency of the vitreous (which is the internal gel of the eye) or problems that affect the retina (which is the back of the eye). Problems that affect the vitreous include hemorrhages due to diabetes and problems that affect the retina include retinal detachment, macular hole, epiretinal membranes etc. Sometimes a vitrectomy is combined with other surgeries, such as a cataract extraction withor the implantation of an intraocular lens. A vitrectomy can also used to resolve complications that may have occurred during a other eye surgeries like infections or dislocated intraocular lenses.

Photo: “The equipment needed for a vitrectomy”

Photo: “Vitrectomy as seen from the outside”

This surgery is performed under local anesthesia using a surgical microscope and may take between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the complexity of the case. The surgeon usually places 3 access routes, each of which is a small microincision less than 1 mm in diameter. The first access route is used for the infusion system (liquid entry) to maintain a specific pressure inside of the eye. The second access route is used for a fiber optic light that illuminates the retina, and the third access route is for the vitrector to cut and remove the vitreous gel.

Photo: "Pars Plana Vitrectomy Approach"

The risk of complications with a vitrectomyis small, with about 1 in 100 patients developing a retinal detachment (which can be treated) and 1 in 2000 patients developing an infection after surgery.

Below is a video that shows the vitrectomy procedure.

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