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Vitrectomy: Surgical Removal of the Vitreous

The vitreous gel is the substance, which fill the eye cavity. In certain conditions the vitreous may need surgical removal.

The vitreous, normally a completely clear substance, may become opaque or cloudy in conditions where blood, inflammatory cells, or derbis may develop and blurr vision. In these cases a vitrectomy may need to be performed to restore vision. In other conditions the vitreous must be removed in order to perform surgery on the retina, such as a retinal detachment, macular hole or epiretinal membrane surgery. In other cases the vitreous is pulling or tugging on the retina and needs to be removed in order to return the retina to its normal anatomical position.

Common eye conditions treated with a vitrectomy include:

  • Complications from diabetic retinopathy such as bleeding.

  • Macular hole.

  • Retinal detachment.

  • Epiretinal membrane.

  • Bleeding inside the eye (vitreous hemorrhage).

  • Injury or infection.

  • Certain problems related to previous eye surgery.

How is a vitrectomy performed?

Your retinal surgeon will use a specialized microscope with lenses designed to visualize the vitreous and retina. Several microscopic incisions are made through the sclera (white part of the eye) to access the inside of the eye.  Your surgeon will then use microsurgical instruments, through these incisions, to perform your surgery.  As mentioned above, in some conditions a vitrectomy is performed in conjunction with other procedures such as laser surgery, retinal detachment repair, macular hole surgery, and macular membrane peel. How long a surgery will take depends on which additional procedures are required to treat your condition. 

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