What is a Vitrectomy and why is it used for the treatment of retinal detachment?
Vitrectomy means to remove the vitreous humor. Although vitreous humor is often referred to as vitreous jelly, the collagen fibers in the hyaluronic acid gel (jelly) are the component that causes retinal detachment. Vitreous pulls on the retina creating retinal tears or breaks. The vitreous never regenerates if it is removed, and the eye will have perfect vision and a normal shape without the vitreous. Patients often are concerned that the eye will collapse if the vitreous is removed or wonder what is used to replace it. Aqueous humor fills the former vitreous space within hours after surgery replacing the artificial aqueous humor (saline with additives called balanced salt solution) that is used to maintain eye pressure during and immediately after surgery. Vitreous removal reduces pulling (traction) on the retina, improves the surgeon’s view, and provides space for a gas or silicone oil bubble.