Recovery after vitrectomy eye surgery

Vitrectomy eye surgery is done for conditions like retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy and for complications of cataract surgery like infection or retained lens matter. This involves removing the vitreous gel in your eye with tiny keyhole incisions. Vitrectomy surgery is usually done under local anesthetic and takes less than 30 minutes to do.

Does the vitreous gel need to be replaced?

Many patients have the fear that their eye will collapse or be damaged after the vitreous gel is removed. The vitreous gel will be replaced by the natural fluid in the eye called “aqueous” and there will be no damage to the eye if the gel is removed. Our eye can function normally even without this gel.

How long will my vision be blur for after surgery?

This depends very much on what the surgeon puts in the eye after vitrectomy. Usually, we put in a short acting gas bubble which stays in the eye for up to 2 weeks. During this time, your vision will be blurred and you cannot travel in an airplane. Retina surgeons sometimes put in silicone oil into the eye. With silicone oil, you can see immediately after surgery but it will still be a little blurred.

Precautions after surgery

Your eye will be slightly uncomfortable after surgery and you may sometimes be given painkiller tablets. You have to use antibiotic and steroid eyedrops for at least 2 weeks after surgery. Sometimes, a dilating eye drop is also given to prevent your pupil from becoming stuck together. I advise all my post op patients to wear a plastic eye shield on their operated eye when they are sleeping to stop them from accidentally rubbing their eye. Patients should also avoid washing their hair for 2 days after surgery to prevent water from getting into their operated eye. They can use a clean towel to wipe around the operated eye. Swimming is out of the question for at least 1 month after surgery. There are no food restrictions after surgery but in Asia, for cultural reasons, some of my post op patients avoid foods like prawn, seafood, and eggs.

Most patients recover completely 1 month after eye surgery when the redness and swelling around the eye has gone away.


Dr Kenneth Fong Choong Sian

Consultant Retinal Surgeon

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



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