How Long After Vitrectomy Can I Drive (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 6 Weeks

When various operations of retinal conditions take place, it is often hard for the surgeons to reach the retina. Thus, during times like this, a vitrectomy is undertaken. It is a surgical procedure performed by a surgeon to remove the vitreous humor (a kind of fluid), which generally fills up the eye cavity.

This surgery is necessary if the vitreous humor has developed an infection, or is filled with clumps of tissues, which are called floaters. As this fluid is removed during the surgery, it needs to be replaced with something. Hence, after the surgery, the fluid is replaced by a saline solution or gas bubble, which also is capable of holding the retina to the back wall of the eye.

How Long After Vitrectomy Can I Drive?

Driving If UrgentAfter 2 weeks
Driving After Full RecoveryAfter 6 Weeks

We are only able to see properly when the light reaches the retina in our eyes. But when the vitreous fluid develops an infection or floaters, it creates obstacles for this light to reach the retina. Thus, as a result of this, our vision gets impaired, i.e., we are not able to see properly. Vitrectomy is the surgery done to treat such a condition by removing and replacing this fluid. This surgery not only allows doctors to reach the retina, but also the macula, which is placed in the center of the retina. A small hole in the macula can also cause problems to our vision. But after the vitrectomy surgery, doctors can treat this problem as well.

Vitrectomy also allows doctors to treat various other medical conditions as well. These medical conditions mainly include infections, internal bleeding of the eye, injury at the retina, or cataracts. This surgery also helps to treat a condition in which your retina has moved from its original place.

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After the surgery is done, for about the next 48 hours, you are supposed to take full rest. You should avoid using any kind of machines, drink alcohol, smoke, or consume any sleeping tablets. And for the next few days, you should strictly avoid driving or exercising.

You are not supposed to drive until you are fully recovered. Usually, vitrectomy surgeries take almost 4 to 6 weeks for recovery. This is because the gas bubble which is used to replace the vitreous fluid may still have a longing effect on the eye for few weeks. Hence, it is best recommended to not drive for the next 6 weeks. But if there’s an urgency, then after consulting the doctor, you may be able to drive 2 weeks after the surgery.

Why does it Take That Long to Drive After Vitrectomy?

Vitrectomy is of two types, i.e., the anterior vitrectomy and the pars plana vitrectomy. The anterior vitrectomy is the procedure in which the vitreous humor is removed because they are tangled with an intraocular lens. The pars plana vitrectomy is the surgery that involves various operations performed to remove all the vitreous humor. These surgeries are mostly performed on the inner part of the eye.

Before 8 hours for the surgery, the doctors will suggest you not to consume food and water. How long the surgery is depending on the condition being treated. For the surgery to begin, any one of the two anesthesia is given. You can either get local anesthesia which will make your eye go numb, or you can take general anesthesia which will put you unconscious throughout the surgery.

As the surgery begins, the first cut is made at the outer layer of the eye and then to the white part, which is called the sclera. After that, the vitreous humor is removed with the help of a microscopic cutting tool. As the fluid is being removed, your eye will be filled with another liquid which is much similar to the normal eye fluid. After removing the fluid, the main condition of the retina is finally treated. If you have any scar, infection, or debris, it will be removed. The vitreous humor will now be replaced with a saline, gas bubble, or silicone oil. Then an antibiotic will be applied to your eye and the eye will be covered by a patch.

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If a gas bubble is used as a replacement, it takes about 6 weeks to recover. For the recovery, you will be prescribed some antibiotic drops. These will protect you from any kind of infection or inflammation. You might even be suggested to lay down your face so that your eye can recover properly.

Conclusion

It is observed that almost 90% of vitrectomy surgeries are successfully done. But sometimes complications do arise. Such complications include bleeding at the eye, pneumonia, detached retina, vision impairment, and scar tissue formation.

Although our eye is not much affected when the vitreous humor is removed, it is necessary to replace the fluid. If this fluid is replaced by a saline solution or a gas bubble, both of them are similar to the normal eye fluid. If silicone oil is used for replacement, then you will be having another mild surgery in the next few months to remove this oil. But either way, you are not supposed to drive until you are fully recovered, i.e., for 6 weeks.

References

  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/1147502
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1529183909005247

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