Vitrectomy Recovery – The Aftermath of Eye Surgery

This article was originally written by Charlie Cory

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They eyes are very sensitive. I cannot imagine anyone not cringing at the thought of eye surgery. Anyone who has experienced a vitrectomy will have experienced what it is like to have partial sight. So, vitrectomy recovery is something which needs your very careful attention, if you want to achieve the best possible results from your eye surgery.
A vitrectomy is a procedure to remove the vitreous from the eye. The vitreous is a colourless gel-like substance which fills the space behind the len of the eye, and is attached on all sides to the wall of the eye, the lens and the retina.
The vitreous must remain clear to maintain a clarity of vision, and if anything causes the vitreous to lose clarity, then a vitrectomy can be performed to remedy the situation and to try and improve the quality of vision for the patient.
A vitrectomy can also be performed if any damage occurs to the retina, such as a detachment or a tear. In such cases it is common for a gas bubble to be inserted into the eye. The gas bubble will, over time, be absorbed into the eye, but during the period of recovery from eye surgery, it will, with correct head placement, act to press the retina back against the eye wall. This is a critical part of vitrectomy recovery.
Many hospitals will provide a special head rest that allows the patient to rest in a chair with the eyes pointing directly down. The benefit of this is that the gas bubble floats upwards and presses against the retina, ensuring that gentle pressure is applied to the retina to aid recovery. The same head rest can be adapted for use at night so that the patient can sleep face down, ensuring that the gas bubble is pressed against the retina overnight.
This technique of head rest is known as ‘posturing’. The duration of this technique depends on the advice of the surgeon, but could be anything between five and fourteen days. After my surgery, I was told that I had to adopt this posturing position all day every day, with only 10 minutes in each hour to stretch my legs etc. I was able to get by by listening to music and listening to talking books during the day, but it was most problematical for me, at nighttime.
Sleeping on one’s front may not pose problems for everyone, especially with a head rest to keep your head in the appropriate position. I however, suffer from discomfort in the small of my back, and lying in this position became excruciating after an hour or so.
The advice I received was to take pain killers, so that the posture could be held for as long as was necessary to maintain the correct recovery position.
I overcame the problem largely through the use of large numbers of pillows under my chest and midriff which had the effect of alleviating the pressure in the small of my back.