What Can I Expect from Vitrectomy Recovery?

You will likely be given an eye patch to wear home to protect the eye directly after surgery.
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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2014
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The vitreous humor, which is clear gel that fills the eye, may need to be removed in order to get rid of debris that can cloud your vision. This is typically done through a vitrectomy, which is a minor surgery that can usually be performed on an outpatient basis. You can expect to need to protect the eye for about a week after surgery, and should also avoid strenuous activity during recovery. Your doctor should give you antibiotic drops to take, and can also add pain relievers to your routine to ease any discomfort as you heal. It is helpful to be aware of the possible complications that may occur during vitrectomy recovery, including eye redness, reduced vision, and discharge.

You will likely be given an eye patch to wear home in order to protect the eye directly after surgery. This can typically be removed within a day, and is often replaced by a plastic shield that can keep you from rubbing the eye or bumping it on anything. It is often a good idea to wear it while you take a shower for the first three days of vitrectomy recovery, and also while sleeping for the first week. During this time, you should avoid lifting heavy objects or doing any activities that strain the body. In fact, relaxation is often recommended for the first few days after surgery.

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Most doctors give patients antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection from occurring, so be vigilant about using these as often as advised. Some doctors also offer anti-inflammatory drops, and can recommend a pain reliever so that you can stay comfortable during vitrectomy recovery. If over-the-counter pain relievers do not seem to help much, you can use cold compresses to reduce discomfort, as well.

While some discomfort is to be expected during vitrectomy recovery, severe pain is not, especially if it seems to be increasing as time goes on. If typical pain relievers and cold compresses do not seem to help, it is a good idea to contact your doctor. Redness, swelling, and discharge can also be signs that there is an issue, such as an infection. In addition, some patients notice reduced vision, or at least excessive floaters and flashes of light, none of which is considered normal for vitrectomy recovery. Therefore, you are advised to visit your doctor as soon as possible after noticing such symptoms, as early treatment may prevent long-term problems.

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anon308989
Post 14

I am from Sweden. I just had a vitrectomy done for my eye floaters and here they always do a cataract surgery before or after a vitrectomy because the side effects are cataracts. But I am glad because I am really nearsighted, so when they did that cataract surgery, they put in a new plastic lens so I can see well. Not only did my floaters disappear, but my nearsightedness (myopia) disappeared, too!

anon294295
Post 13

My three-year-old son had an accident in May and had a penetrating injury to his left eye. Because of that innjury, he got endophthalmitis in his left eye, and after that, had sutureless vitrectomy and lensectomy surgery done.

Now our local doctor says after a scan that the infection is gone but there is no current technology which can give him back his left eye vision.

Please advise if it is possible to get any positive response with any treatment?

anon256389
Post 12

My husband had to have the surgery twice as well but we are four months out and he flunked his DOT physical and is losing his job. His doctor told him he would be fine this far out, but his vision in the one eye is really bad and it is still dilated. Nice.

So now we are down to one income because of the side effects of the vitrectomy. So we are paying back $11,000 for two surgeries that cost my husband his job. Not sure what we are going to do at this point, but needless to say we are not going to be in very good shape living on disability. This stinks.

Oceana
Post 10

Did you know that you can rent vitrectomy recovery equipment? My sister found this out last year, and the best part was that her insurance covered the cost!

She got a memory foam head rest to help her sleep. It was raised at an angle and had a hole in the middle for her face. She said that it was very comfortable, and she had no trouble sleeping on it.

She also got a chair with a mirror system. Instead of watching TV with just one mirror, which would turn everything around, this system reflected the reflection, turning everything back as it should be.

This equipment sure made her recovery a lot more pleasant than it would have been otherwise. I'm glad that this is an option for vitrectomy patients.

OeKc05
Post 9

@fify – My mom also had to keep her head down after her vitrectomy to repair a macular hole. She basically had a bubble of gas injected into her eye, and this was why it was so important for her to keep this position.

The bubble pushed down in a certain way to help the hole heal itself. Because she was actually viewing the world through the bubble, it seemed like she was underwater looking up. The waviness and blurriness of it all probably motivated her to stick to her recovery plan and not look around very much.

After a few days, she could see well enough to watch some TV. So, we put her flat screen on the floor beside her bed. She rested her chin on the edge of the bed to watch it, but this was a bit uncomfortable, so she didn't watch it for very long periods of time.

lighth0se33
Post 8

@wavy58 – True, the patch is annoying, but I was more than happy to wear it during my recovery. I know how much getting something in my eye can hurt under ordinary circumstances, so I was certain that I wanted to avoid it while my eye was super sensitive.

I was especially glad to have it in the shower. No matter how hard I try, I never can keep shampoo from getting into my eyes. I have really long hair, and I have to lather it up for several minutes, so there is ample time for some of the suds to leak down into my face.

I am also a little accident prone. I walked into a couple of open cabinet doors while wearing the patch, and I was so glad that I had it on at the time!

wavy58
Post 7

My sister had a vitrectomy because her doctor was concerned that the blood in her vitreous gel was lingering. Some physicians prefer a wait-and-see approach, but this one knew that if they waited and nothing changed, more damage could have been done.

She had a lot of discomfort, but not a lot of actual pain. The eye patch bothered her a lot, just because it was something new and foreign to her face. She had trouble sleeping because of it, too.

After her recovery period, all was well. Today, her vision is totally fine, and she didn't have any complications from the vitrectomy.

Monika
Post 6

A friend of mine was considering this surgery to get rid of floaters. However, she eventually opted not to go through with it. One of the possible side effects of a vitrectomy is worsening of your vision.

The original point of her getting a vitrectomy would have been to make her vision better by getting rid of the floaters. However, she decided not to risk making her vision any worse by getting the surgery. I'm not sure if she will change her mind in the future, because from what she's told me the floaters interfere with her vision too. But for now, no surgery for my friend.

starrynight
Post 5

@Azuza - I've heard that about eye infections. I actually know someone who lost an eye because of an infection. She wasn't properly caring for her contact lenses (a lot of people don't) and she got an infection. The whole process was pretty horrifying.

Anyway, I know someone who got this surgery, and she ended up with some complications. She ended up with a cataract, and then had to get surgery for that. So not only did my friend have to recover from a vitrectomy, she also had the fun of cataract surgery recovery!

Azuza
Post 4

I just wanted to say that if anyone has vitreous detachment surgery, definitely make sure to use the antibiotic eye drops. I have a friend who works for an optometrist, and from what she's told me, eye infections are extremely hard to treat. And even if they are treatable, the process can be quite lengthy.

Also, bacterial infections of the eye can lead to some pretty bad consequences. You could lose your vision or completely lose your eye. So seriously, if you get this or any other kind of eye surgery, follow all your doctor's instructions for your recovery.

fify
Post 3

@turkay1-- Were you allowed to hold your head upright during the first week of your recovery?

I was the caregiver for my dad after his vitrectomy surgery and he was required to keep his head down almost always. It was so difficult, I had never seen something like this before. He sat in a chair during the day but he always had to look down and keep his head down. We also had a special pillow for him while he slept to keep his head down. He could eat only soft foods and couldn't even look up to watch TV. He had to do this for a week!

Vitrectomy procedure might be a simple surgery but the recovery can be very difficult for the patient and caregiver. I hope we never have to go through it again.

candyquilt
Post 2

@ddljohn-- Yes you are right. It's actually hard to rest at home for that long when you've taken time off from your job and have a bunch of things to take care of. On top of that, I live alone. My sister came down a couple of times and brought me food and checked on me but it was not easy getting around the house or bathing with those eye patches on. If I had known that it would be that difficult, I would have arranged to stay with my mom or my sister during the recovery because I really couldn't do much at all.

Thankfully I had my sister who came often and drove me to the doctor's appointment as I had follow-ups. He had to check if the retina was attaching properly and if everything else was okay. I couldn't have gone for those appointments without a lending help.

For anyone who is scheduled to have vitrectomy surgery, make sure to arrange a caregiver beforehand or you're going to be in a fix.

ddljohn
Post 1

Rest is so important during a vitrectomy recovery. My husband has had the surgery twice due to a detached retina. After the first surgery, he didn't follow all of the doctor's orders. He was good about it for the first three days but then tried to drive (and did) on the fourth day. I was out grocery shopping and I was so upset when I found about it.

The next day, he had a lot of pain in his eye and we had to go see his doctor. He had strained his eye while driving and his recovery took an extra two weeks because of that. He had the surgery again last month but this time he didn't leave the couch for two weeks which is what he should have done the first time. He healed much faster the second time around and had less pain too.

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