ZocdocAnswersWhat is a vitrectomy?

Question

What is a vitrectomy?

I had a serious vitreous hemorrhage not too long ago for which the doctor wants to do a vitrectomy. Can you explain to me how a vitrectomy works? I want to know everything: is it painful? Is it risky? What are the costs and benefits of doing it or not doing it?

Answer

A vitrectomy is a serious medical procedure that requires a skilled eye doctor (ophthalmologist). I am glad you are asking the right questions before a major procedure, but would also encourage you to have a frank discussion with your ophthalmologist regarding this. The vitreous humor is the jelly type substance inside the eyeball that lubricates and holds the eye. This substance has not real purpose, other than being structurally important. A vitreous hemorrhage is when blood leaks into the vitreous humor. The most important thing is to figure out and stop what caused the blood leakage (often laser therapy can do this). However, if the blood that has already leaked out remains in the vitreous humor, it can block the normal passage of light as the now clear jelly has blood. As such, a vitrectomy is a procedure done to "suck out" some of the vitreous humor to remove the blood with a small needle through the eyeball. The body then replaces it with clean, clear new vitreous humor, that will hopefully improve vision. If the eye is otherwise healthy, vision can return to normal. However if the eye has other problems (like whatever caused the initial blood leak) then it may not be that helpful. It is not a painful procedure. There are risks of infection or eye damage, but everything really depends on your situation. Talk to your eye doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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