4 Things Glaucoma Sufferers Need To Know About Vitrectomy

The vitreous is the gel-like substance that fills your eyes, and vitrectomy is the surgical procedure that removes it. Optometrists use this procedure to treat many different eye issues, including glaucoma, a condition that causes high pressure inside the eye. Here's what you need to know about it.

Why does the vitreous need to be removed?

Glaucoma occurs when the fluids inside your eyes either stop draining completely, or don't drain quickly enough. This allows too much fluid to accumulate inside your eyes, causing high pressure that can damage the delicate structures inside your eyes. Removing some or all of the vitreous lowers the amount of fluid inside your eyes, and therefore the pressure.

How is this procedure performed?

Vitrectomy is a fairly simple procedure. First, you will receive anesthesia. Eye surgery is usually done with local anesthesia, but if you're very anxious, general anesthesia is also available. Talk to your optometrist about the risks and benefits of both forms of anesthesia before you make your decision.

Once your eyes have been numbed, the procedure will start. The optometrist will make a small incision in the surface of your eye, and cut into the vitreous. Next, some or all of the vitreous will be suctioned out. Once the vitreous is removed, the incision in your eye will be sewn shut.The surgeon needs to be very careful not to harm your eye, so the procedure can take as long as 3 hours.

Does it hurt?

You won't feel pain during the procedure, but you will feel pain during the recovery period. Bruising and swelling are also normal during the healing period. You will be given a prescription for painkillers to help you handle this discomfort.

How well does it work?

The effectiveness of vitrectomy as a glaucoma treatment varies based on how advanced your glaucoma is. If your glaucoma is advanced, and has caused other problems inside your eyes such as retinal detachment, the success rate one year after surgery is 55.6% and 18.5% after two years. If your glaucoma is less advanced, and has not yet caused any serious complications inside your eyes, the surgery is much more likely to be successful. The success rate three years after surgery for people with uncomplicated glaucoma is 81.2%.

Glaucoma is a very serious eye condition. If non-surgical treatments aren't enough to lower the pressure inside your eye, you'll need to have surgery. Talk to your optometrist at clinics such as Ashworth Vision Clinic to find out if vitrectomy is right for you.