What is Vitreoretinal Surgery? For persons suffering from diabetic retinopathy, vitreous hemorrhage, hemolytic glaucoma, central vein occlusion, macular holes or tears and other retinal detachment disorders that cause damage or disease to the eye –the jelly-like substance that fills the inner eye — vitrectomy is a special surgical procedure that removes the vitreous so your surgeon can repair the damaged portion of your eye. Once the defect is repaired the surgeon then replaces the emptied cavity with a gas bubble. Since gas rises and the macula and retina are at the back of the eye, recovering patients must remain facedown in order for the gas bubble to effectively apply pressure to the area in need of healing, allowing the macula or retina to re-bond to the eye wall and a new vitreous to eventually replace the gas bubble.
Although a vitrectomy is a relatively painless procedure with a strong, successful track record in improving vision, the recovery from vitrectomy is often more challenging because patients must contend with the monotony, stress and discomfort of a 23-hour-a-day facedown-postoperative position. Most vitreo-retinal ophthalmologists agree that a vitrectomy is most successful when patients fully comply with facedown recovery instructions.