Explainer: What is vitrectomy?

Explainer: What is vitrectomy?

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The risk of vitreous detachment increases with age, particularly among individuals aged 50 and above.

Recently, Raghav Chadha, a 35-year-old Indian politician and Member of Parliament, underwent a surgical procedure called Vitrectomy in the UK. Ever since, questions about the surgical procedure have been coming up online and offline. 

First Check gets you all the answers, backed by science. 

The eye

A gel-like substance called the vitreous fluid is enclosed between the lens in the frontal portion of the eye and the retina, the light sensitive tissue, which occupies the hind portion of the eye. This fluid is full of tiny fibres that are attached to the retina. 

Vitrectomy refers to a surgical procedure performed on the eye to remove this fluid and replace it with saline, or gas bubbles, or silicone gel. This procedure is performed for eye conditions that carry the potential to adversely affect the retina and hinder one’s vision. Retinal detachment, an eye condition in which the retina separates from the back of the eye, is among the common concerns that mandate vitrectomy. 

The signs 

If you begin to experience a sudden increase in floaters (unstructured concentric circles) across your visual field, it’s time to visit the ophthalmologist, or eye specialist. When one’s vitreous fluid detaches, its strands cast a shadow on the retina; these appear as floaters. One may also experience flashes of light in one’s peripheral vision.

The test to ascertain the condition of the retina mandates the use of a fundus camera (a diagnostic device that examines the fundus, the inside portion opposite the lens) and the dilating of the pupil to obtain a clearer view.  

The treatment

If the vitreous detachment is unlikely to cause any serious trouble, as ascertained by an ophthalmologist, one may not need to undergo any surgery. Regular follow-up visits to the ophthalmologist’s clinic should suffice. However, if the detachment is likely to cause a hinderance to one’s vision, vitrectomy may be recommended.

Individuals who undergo vitrectomy may experience side effects. On rare occasions, patients may develop an infection called endophthalmitis, which mandates prompt medical attention. Further, there’s risk of cataract formation among older patients, which may call for further surgical intervention. 

The take-home message 

The risk of vitreous detachment increases with age, particularly among individuals aged 50 and above. Individuals who are near-sighted are also at a higher risk of detachment. Furthermore, if you have experienced vitreous detachment in one eye, you may have a higher risk in the other eye. 

It’s prudent to get your eyes tested regularly. For those who fall in the ‘high risk’ category, a visit to the ophthalmologist is recommended once every six months, or as recommended by the doctor. 

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