Like all surgical procedures, there is some element of risk even when getting a vitrectomy done. In this article, we try to explain the risks of this surgical procedure, so you can have a better understanding of what to expect if you have to undergo it.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure where the vitreous gel of the eye is removed to bring about improvement in vision. In normal conditions, vitreous gel is a colorless, thick, viscous matter that occupies the interior part of the eyeball. A major role of this gel is to maintain the spherical shape of the eyeball. Besides, it also holds the retina or light sensing tissue of the eye in its designated position at the back of the eye. However, due to some diseases, this clear gel turns cloudy, and visible light fails to reach the retina of the eye. To correct such visual defects, surgery is performed.
Diabetic patients are susceptible to diabetic retinopathy where the visual light get blurred or blocked due to presence of blood or scarred tissue inside the vitreous gel. Similar kind of debris may get accumulated in the gel due to eye infections or injuries to the eyes. In such cases, the vitreous gel is removed through surgical incisions and is replaced with a special kind of silicone oil or gas. The procedure is also applied to correct various eye problems associated with the retina, such as retinal detachment, wrinkling of the retina, or tears in retina. In such cases, the vitreous gel needs to be removed surgically so that the retina, that lies at the back of the eye, can be accessible. After the hole in the retina is repaired or its normal position is restored, special fluid is injected to replace the vitreous gel.
There are a number of risks associated with vitrectomy surgery. A few of them have been listed below:
- The risk of infection cannot be ruled out in any kind of surgery, and vitrectomy is no exception. Infection may occur in the retina where the surgery is performed. It may also affect other parts in and around the eye. Eye surgeons always try their level best to avoid this kind of post surgery infections. Usually, these infections are treated with the help of antibiotics.
- Retinal detachment is one of the most commonly found risks of vitrectomy, which, in turn, affects the vision of the eye. It is repaired with the help of insertion of fluids into the vitreous cavity. Sometimes, the detached retina heals up with the passage of time, which often varies from six to eight weeks. In others, it may have to be corrected with laser surgery.
- Increase in pressure inside the eye is also another risk factor associated with this surgery. The chances of this kind of intraocular pressure (IOP) is particularly common in patients who have a glaucoma problem. In most cases, it is just a temporary condition and is controlled with suitable medicines.
- The surgery may also give rise to corneal edema. In this condition, fluid build up takes place within the clear covering of the eye. As a result, the pressure on the eye is increased and the patient may suffer from blurred vision. In some cases, it may cause damage to the surrounding tissues.
- Another possible risk is bleeding inside the eye. This happens particularly in cases where the vitreous gel is removed due to bleeding into it. In many such cases, bleeding tends to recur within the vitreous cavity or frontal part of the eye, and causes severe damage to the eye.
- When this surgery is conducted on the elderly (above the age of 50), the chances of cataract formation increases manifold.
If your ophthalmologist has recommended this surgery for you, do not panic after reading these risk factors. Doctors usually avail this option only when they find that it is important to save the vision of the patient. Moreover, the success of the procedure largely depends on the eye problem of the patient. Therefore, they would assess the condition of your eye thoroughly and discuss with you in detail about what you can expect from the surgery, and then only proceed with it.