The vitreous is the clear, gel-like substance that makes up the center of the eye. It accounts for approximately two-thirds of the eye’s volume and helps maintain its shape. Due to its consistency, the vitreous can be affected by various diseases that may cause it to cloud, clump together, or even fill with blood, thereby making it difficult for light to properly reach the retina. This may result in blurred vision, retinal tears or detachments, or other serious conditions.
Patients with certain diseases may benefit from a vitrectomy. This procedure involves removing the vitreous by cutting and suctioning it out with tiny instruments that are inserted into the eye. Removal of the vitreous is necessary for unimpeded access to the retina. Your surgeon may then treat the retina with a laser, cut or remove scar tissue, flatten detached areas of the retina or repair holes or tears in the retina. Patients may experience mild discomfort and redness for several days after this procedure.
The vitreous that is removed does not grow back, but is replaced by fluid that is normally produced by the eye. This gel was important during the development of the eye, but is not necessary following birth for eye health or focusing.
Although results vary depending on the individual condition treated, most patients experience improved visual acuity following this procedure. Vitrectomy is sometimes necessary when treating conditions such as macular holes, macular puckers, retinal detachments, diabetic retinopathy, vitreous hemorrhage or an infection in the eye (endophthalmitis).
Although this procedure is considered safe, there are certain risks associated with any surgical procedure. Some of these risks include retinal tears or detachment, fluid buildup, growth of new blood vessels, infection and further bleeding into the vitreous gel. Cataract formation is often accelerated in patients that have not previously had cataract surgery.