July 6, 2009

Recovering From a Vitrectomy

If a doctor has told you that you need to have a vitrectomy, you’re probably confused and concerned about having a procedure and not knowing what to expect.

A vitrectomy is simply the removal and replacement of the vitreous, or the fluid that fills the eye. While this is a fairly simple procedure, proper recovery techniques are very important.

While you should always follow your doctor’s advice, there are several steps you can expect to be told to take. These procedures are important to help your eye heal and prevent infection, but they may also be vital to the surgery working at all.

Vitrectomy Risks and Vitrectomy Surgery Recovery 

Directly after your surgery, your doctor will probably fit you with an eye patch. It is important to leave the patch on until it is removed by your doctor or a nurse. During surgery, your doctor will numb your eyelid to prevent it from blinking. While this makes the surgery easier to perform, it also prevents you from properly cleaning and lubricating your eye until the anesthesia wears off. If you remove the patch before you are able to blink properly, you risk infecting the eye. This can turn a simple procedure into a much more serious problem.

Once the eye patch is removed, you should begin using the eye drops your doctor prescribed (unless they instruct you to use them ahead of time). Generally you will be given two types of eye drops: one to reduce inflammation and swelling, and another to prevent infection. They should be used for as long as your doctor recommends.

You may experience pain and discomfort after the surgery. This should be relieved by placing an ice pack on the affected area. This reduces swelling and pressure and therefore pain. If this doesn’t get rid of all the pain, you may consider taking Tylenol or another pain reliever, but be sure to ask your doctor first before you take anything. If pain is severe or persists for more than a few days, you should go to see your doctor.

If your vitrectomy was performed to correct retinal detachment, a macular hole, or any other condition that required a small gas bubble to be inserted into the eye, the most important step for recovery is to have your face pointing downward most of the day.

The specific amount of time per day should be specified by your doctor. The pressure of the gas bubble on the problem area assists in healing. Generally the problem is at the back of the eye. So when you tilt your head downward, the tiny bubble floats to the top; allowing healing to occur. This position may seem uncomfortable and unnatural, but if you don’t do it enough, your surgery will likely be of little help to your problem. Your doctor may provide a cushion to rest your head in, but there are also companies that make equipment that is more convenient and comfortable. You may think spending the money is unnecessary, but some people may find it terribly uncomfortable to do and be less likely to stay in this position as long as they should. And as I already said; the less time you spend with your face down, the less likely you are to heal.

Once the eye patch is removed, feel free to use your eye. You may have trouble seeing for a little while, but the condition should improve as your eye naturally replaces the fluid. Hopefully these steps along with your doctor’s advice will help you recover quickly from your vitrectomy.

NOTE: Originally taken from: http://www.snzeport.com/dlarticles3/vitrectomy.htm, however this original article is no longer available.

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