A vitrectomy is a commonly performed eye surgery used to resolve a number of conditions that involve the eye's vital structures. The procedure involves totally removing the vitreous humor (eye fluid) and replacing it with an air and gas mixture, which requires substantial recovery time and post-treatment care.
Recovery Time Variables
The length of time required for recovery will depend on the seriousness of the underlying condition. Conditions that may require vitrectomy procedures include retinal detachment, diabetic vitreous hemorrhage, macular hole(s), epiretinal membrane, proliferative vitreoretinopathy, foreign body removal, and endophthalmitis.
A plastic eye shield must be worn when sleeping for the first week following surgery, and should be worn for at least the first three days after surgery when showering.
The patient is often told to lie face-down and remain immobile for up to three weeks after surgery. This is to ensure proper healing as natural eye fluid slowly replaces the air and gas mixture that was placed in the eye during surgery.
Eye drops are typically used for a few weeks after the surgery to minimize inflammation, prevent infection, minimize scarring of the pupil, provide comfort, and to maintain low eye pressure.
Patients must cancel all travel plans for at least a few months following surgery. This is because of the extreme risks of changes in air pressure, which pose dangerous risks for for any remaining air and gas mixture in the eye. Only the doctor can tell you when it's safe to fly.
Total Healing Time
Most healing will occur during the four to six weeks after surgery, but full replacement of the air and gas mixture, as well as full visual recovery, may take up to a few months. Consistent follow-up appointments are required.