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A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure where blood is removed from the center of the eye. Usually, this procedure is recommended as a treatment for diabetic retinopathy if the bleeding is severe. It is performed under either local or general anesthesia. Although this surgery has a high success rate, it does not cure diabetic retinopathy.

What Is a Vitrectomy?

A vitrectomy is a type of surgery in which blood is removed from the center of the eye. It is often recommended for the treatment of proliferative retinopathy, the most advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy, if the bleeding is severe.
 
Another treatment option for proliferative retinopathy is scatter laser treatment (see Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment for more information).
 

What You Need to Know

You may need a vitrectomy to restore your sight if you have a lot of blood in the center of the eye (vitreous gel). If you need this procedure in both eyes, they are usually done several weeks apart.
 
A vitrectomy is performed under either local or general anesthesia. Your doctor makes a tiny incision in your eye. Next, a small instrument is used to remove the vitreous gel that is clouded with blood. The vitreous gel is replaced with a salt solution. Because the vitreous gel is mostly water, you will notice no change between the salt solution and the original gel.
 

Recovering From a Vitrectomy

You will probably be able to return home after the vitrectomy. Some people stay in the hospital overnight. Your eye will be red and sensitive, and you will need to wear an eye patch for a few days or weeks to protect your eye. Immediately after the surgery, you also will need to use medicated eyedrops to protect against infection.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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