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What is Involved in a Vitrectomy for Floaters?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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A vitrectomy for floaters is a surgical operation involving removal of the vitreous, a gel found in the eye, to eliminate marks or dots in the patient’s vision. To perform the operation, small instruments are inserted into the eye. An overnight stay in hospital is often required, and exercise must be avoided for a period after the operation. Recovery from a vitrectomy can take up to two months, and there is always a risk of a detached retina or bleeding in the eye.

Eye conditions such as a detached retina and diabetic eye disease are commonly treated using a vitrectomy, but the same surgical techniques can be employed to get rid of floaters as well. The procedure can be long, so a general anesthetic is often provided, although this depends on a variety of factors including the person’s health and preference. Not all people with floaters are suitable for a vitrectomy because of the risks involved; it is usually only recommended in the worst cases. Some surgeons don’t consider floaters to be serious enough to warrant this sort of operation.

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During a vitrectomy for floaters, the surgeon will insert instruments into the eye through small holes. These instruments are used to remove the jelly-like substance that exists in the eye called the vitreous. Water or gas replaces the fluid because it is not essential for the eye to function correctly. Once the operation has been completed, the surgeon will close up the holes, thus leaving no visible marks.

The patient will usually be required to stay in hospital for at least one night after a vitrectomy for floaters. The eye will be red and swollen and will often water extensively to begin with. Most people find that it can take up to two months for vision to return to normal. During the first few weeks, the patient should not partake in any strenuous exercise.

It’s important that anyone considering a vitrectomy for floaters understands the risks involved. In most cases, normal vision will be regained after the recovery period, but in around five to ten percent of patients there will be additional problems. Some of the risks of a vitrectomy for floaters include bleeding in the eye, infection, and retinal detachment. As not all the fluid can be removed from the eye, there is also a chance that a lesser amount of floaters will still be present after the procedure.

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