It is not common for people to have regular eye checkups, when in fact this should be scheduled at least every two years for adults within the age of 18 to 60, every year for those over 60, and more frequent visits to an eye doctor for those who are more “at risk.”
By “at-risk” we mean those who have an increased possibility of contracting certain eye conditions or diseases brought about by pre-existing health conditions (e.g. diabetes or high blood pressure), those who belong to a family lineage with history of eye disease, patients who take medications that can have side effects affecting the eyes, persons who may have experienced eye trauma or undergone any surgical procedure in the eye, and professionals whose jobs entail their eyes being exposed to harmful environments or require their vision to be healthy.
As much as we know how important our eyes can be, putting its health in consideration often slips most people’s mind. A trip to the eye doctor usually happens when there are already abnormal changes affecting one’s vision and often times this occurrence results in finding out that an eye disease or condition is already progressing to an advanced state. Most often, the only effective treatment that can be done for severe eye problems is surgery.
Eye conditions that can be treated by vitrectomy
A vitrectomy procedure may be needed when an individual has eye conditions, such as:
- Complications from cataract surgery
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Interior eye infections
- Macular degeneration (e.g. age-related macular degeneration (AMD), macular pucker, etc.)
- Retinal detachment
- Retinal bleeding
- Vitreous bleeding
- Vitreous detachment
These conditions are very crucial as they directly affect the eye’s ability to see. If these problems are left untreated, there is a big chance that the vision will function abnormally and negatively impact one’s quality of life should the person end up losing parts of their vision or going completely blind.
Preparing for vitrectomy
The best way to prepare for vitrectomy is to check with your doctor about what you should do prior to the date of your surgery. Patients are usually advised to stop certain kinds of medication and avoid certain foods and beverages that may cause complications to the procedure. Also, be sure that you have someone to accompany you on the day of your surgery.
Steps in performing vitrectomy
Prior to the vitrectomy procedure, it is recommended that patients discuss with their doctor whether they would like to be asleep during the entire surgery or not.
- Step 1 – Anaesthetic eye drops and injections (for those who prefer to be awake) or general anaesthesia (for those who want to be asleep) are administered to make the patient comfortable and not feel any pain during the operation.
- Step 2 – Three (3) tiny incisions are done at the sclera or white part of the eye.
- Step 3 – Insertion of ports and instruments used to perform the procedure (e.g. infusion, light pipe, and vitrector).
- Step 4 – Removal of vitreous or any unwanted tissue or material from the eye.
- Step 5 – Required repair of certain parts of the eye.
- Step 6 – Replacing of the vitreous with a saline solution or silicone oil.
- Step 7 – Closure of incisions, with stitches if needed.
- Step 8 – Application of an antibiotic ointment to avoid infection.
- Step 9 – Placing of an eye patch over the treated eye.
Expectations after a vitrectomy
Following a vitrectomy surgery, expect your eyes to be swollen and reddish in colour. It may also feel tender for a couple of weeks. Blurred vision is a usual occurrence and can last for some days. Downtime of at least 2 to 4 weeks is needed before being able to return to one’s regular routine. Your eye’s vision will take time to recover and become normal again.
Risks and side effects of vitrectomy
Surgeries, being invasive in nature, are not without possible risks and side effects. These may happen after a vitrectomy surgery:
- Allergic reaction to anaesthesia
- Changes in vision (e.g. blurred vision, night vision and depth perception loss)
- Detachment of retina
- Double vision
- Formation of cataracts
- Inflammation in the centre of the retina
- Interior bleeding of the eye
Cost of vitrectomy surgery in Singapore
The cost of vitrectomy surgery in Singapore varies. In 2018, the Ministry of Health released fee benchmarks for surgeons in private practice. For those accredited to do vitrectomy, private surgeon fees alone range from $6,400 to $12,850. The total cost of a vitrectomy surgery will also include other factors on top of surgeon fees.
Dr Claudine Pang
#15-10 The Paragon, 290 Orchard Rd,
+65 6732 1741