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What more can I do to make sure my Vitrectomy surgery has a successful outcome?

Dear Dr. Hagan - I can't begin to express my appreciation for your advice to so many people here.  You are a true blessing.  I had vitrectomy surgery about 12 days ago for a torn/detached retina.  I've worn glasses all my life and they believe this occurrence was more age related than anything else (I'm 63 and in good health).  This experience has been frightening!  I wake every morning in a panic despite having been told recovery is going well.  The gas bubble makes me a tad bonkers but I know it's there to help with the healing of the retina.  I'm fearful I'll develop an eye infection or do something to detach the retina again.  I'm trying to be patient, but I'm still so scared to lose my sight.  I don't have a follow-up appointment for another 2.5 weeks (why don't they check the eye more often?).  I was planning a trip to Ireland in late June and can't help but wonder if I should ever travel again?  I'm sorry to ramble, but I'm so stressed out.   I understand the success rate is 92%, but what about the other 8%?  What can I do to protect my eye health moving forward?  
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233488 tn?1310693103
Ask your eye surgeon whether your macula (reading spot of retina) was "on" or "off'" before surgery. If ON the prognosis for recovery of good central vision is high, if "OFF" even if the retina stays attached the vision may not return to normal   moreover you may have to wait 6-12 months before you know your final result.  Additionally this type of surgery causes cataracts and cataract surgery is in your future in the next 12-24 months in all likelihood.   Ask about the other eye.  If you have RD one eye and high myope chance of RD in other eye may be as high as 6-20%.  Ask about your activities.   Generally avoid amusement park rides, contact sports, head down position.   Use the search feature and read the many informative posts by other people who have had this problem and this type of surgery. It's a long, protracted anxiety provoking recovery.
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The macula was not damaged; tear/detachment I'm told was small near 12 o'clock.  My vision check at first post-op was excellent and I can see above the bubble very clearly right now (with glasses).  I was told to expect a full cataract within 6 months - 2 years time (100% guaranteed, sigh).   After I'm given the thumbs up, I plan to have an complete examination done again so that my other eye can be evaluated.  It sounds like I should stop international travel.  I would hate to have something like this happened and not be close to home.  Thank you for your time and kindness.  I've been reviewing many of the posts here.  I'm trying to stay calm and carry on...
Ask your surgeon about future travel. If its something you enjoy and VIP in your life the risks are relatively small. Many countries have excellent ophthalmologists.  You can also buy emergency evacuation insurance, not very expensive and they will fly you home on a medivac jet.
Thank you again, Dr. Hagan.  I will definitely clear with my doctor and the insurance is a great idea - it wouldn't be so bad being "stuck" in Ireland for a few weeks, right?  :-)   By the way, you are a generous and amazing medical healer.  I've been reading questions and answers on this forum and you are a true champion in providing advice and guidance.  It is so comforting for patients like myself who are over the top scared, frightened, and shocked to find themselves in this situation.  I can't thank you (or any of your colleagues on this forum) enough for sharing your knowledge and wisdom.  
Thanks. Best of luck. And if you make it to Ireland look for some of our forebears.  We were original O'Hagan and came to USA during the Irish Potato Famine in mid-1800's.  Located in Kentucky and migrated to Missouri long ago.
@MjCg your recovery sounds like it’s well underway. It took maybe 3 weeks for my gas bubble to diminish to nothing, Full visual recovery took me about a year, and I had cataract surgery about 18 months after the vitrectomy. Like you I have the same condition in my non-operative eye (no symptoms) and would have no hesitation traveling, especially to Ireland!
Thank you both!  I dont feel like just an eyeball anymore.  I’m feeling more hopeful today.  Can’t believe how panicked and depressed I have felt.  I’ve checked out travel insurances, and hospitals in Dublin that do ER eye issues, and will travel IF my surgeon gives me the ok when the time comes.  
And Dr. Hagan, if I make it to Ireland I’ll most certainly look out for any O’Hagans!
You had better look out for them they are all pick-pockets.
Ha ha!  Your family likely knows my family as well then (the Norton's)!  Gosh, this has been a helpful discussion.  I have been so filled with despair and sadness since learning I needed a Vitrectomy.   Trying to stay positive but feeling oh so old and downright scared.   I had so many questions.  Still do (when will this friggin' bubble go away??)  And every small eye ache or bounce of the bubble sends my anxiety sky rocketing.  Smartest thing I did was come to this forum and read so many posts.  I had an appointment with my general practitioner who sees all of me, not just the eyeball.  He told me that in his experience nothing brings out more emotions in patients for medical procedures than the heart and the eyes.  The heart representing where we humans believe our soul resides, and the eyes representing our independence.  Anyway, I knew age would bring on health challenges, but never ever thought my sight would be at risk.  I'm seeing well above the bubble, I'm feeling better every day, so I'm hopeful.  Again, thank you for listening.
Do continue to look for past discussions as retina surgery and gas/air in the eye have been discussed many times. No way to tell you when the bubble will go away. It depends on how much was put in, what gas or air (goes away quick) was put in eye and how your eye absorbs the bubble.
Dear Sir,

Is this insurance available the world over?Thanks,
Avatar universal
Just to follow-up, my last post-op appointment went very well.  My eye has healed well  and I've  been cleared to return to all regular activities.  Still waiting for the gas bubble to vanish but it's gotten much smaller (15%).   Ireland trip approved!   My surgeon (retinal specialist) will do a thorough check of both my eyes a week before the flight just to be sure everything is still a go.  Travelers insurance is now in place (thank you for that suggestion!).  Today I went to my optometrist to get a new prescription since my distance vision in the operated eye is a tad blurry (20/40).  That went ok although they were concerned about my eye pressure.  It was 29 compared to 22 just two days ago when I last saw my surgeon.     He is not as worried since the measuring tool he uses is more accurate than the machine my optometrist used, but he's having me come in to be rechecked in the next week or two.  (I've got to have something to keep worrying/fretting about, right?).  I remain grateful for medical technology and all the caring, compassionate professionals in this world.  (I know I'm rambling...)
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May the luck of the Irish come home with you. Thanks for the follow up  
Great news, enjoy!
233488 tn?1310693103
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Dr. Hagan - thank you, and all the members who contribute to this knowledge base. Dealing with a detached retina is extremely scary and causes high anxiety. I suffered a RD skiing, had vitrectomy 6 days later. Initial surgery went fine, but had to have a second surgery as a new tear developed probably caused by inflamation and scar tissue. In your response to MjCg you mentioned to avoid amusement parks - are you specifically talking about rides that might whip you around such as roller coasters? That would be a shame as I love rides like that. Also, would you recommend avoiding skiing and mountain biking? Thank you for your time and graciousness in sharing your knowledge and wisdom.
Helpful - 0
You need to ask your retina surgeon.  Amusement rides that whip the head around are not good for either eye. If you had one RD skiing why go back for more?  Mountain biking is exceptionally dangerous sport.  Local doctor was killed mountain biking this spring.
Thank you Dr. Hagan. I can probably give up roller coasters, but I love the outdoors - skiing is one of my favorite things to do. Even before my RD, my eye doctor told me I had risk factors - I'm 56, nearsighted since my teen years, and had cataract surgery last year. They told me I should watch for it even before cataract surgery. So it may be that the falls I took skiing was the final straw, but perhaps it was just going to happen anyway. I've read on these forums about people who suffered RD from all sorts of non-traumatic causes and other articles I've read say that trauma induced RD is pretty rare. I also fell while trying to push myself a bit on runs that were more challenging and took one fall as a direct face plant, but I'm not an extreme skier and mostly stick to groomed runs. Typically when skiing I don't fall at all, so perhaps if I give it enough time to heal and stick to runs where I'm not likely to fall - I don't have many years of skiing left and I'd hate to give up one of the passions of my life.
Life is risky. We all do the calculations and take risks. I've done mountain climbing, bungee jumping, parachuting and white water rafting. Most RDs are not traumatic by far most are cause by the vitreous shifting and snagging the retina and tearing it.  Discuss with your retina surgeon.  I would probably not be adverse to an informed patient continuing to ski.  Much different than mountain biking or martial arts.  Just watch out for trees.
Thank you again for all your wisdom and advice. You seem to enjoy sharing your vast knowledge and I am sure many many folks here, like myself, are so appreciative.
You are welcome. Watch out for snow snakes, they always tripped me up when I was trying to ski.
Love your positive nature and sense of humor, Dr. Hagan!  Chukar22 - what about cross-country skiing?  I think it would be less risky than downhill and you would still find the experience enjoyable.  Thank you for mentioning "high anxiety" - I must admit I was over the top "crazy" when this first all happened.   Thank goodness for this forum!  This experience was just so out of the blue and a true reminder of how fragile this life of ours is.  So, I'm STILL waiting for the gas bubble to vanish.  Six weeks now (aaack!).   Ireland trip coming up on June 27th and I sure hope the heck it's gone at least two weeks before that trip.  I didn't even get the long lasting bubble!!  So my anxiety continues on - but I'm learning (trying) to be patient It's going to be a long road ahead for all of us - we just need to carry on.
Love your positive nature and sense of humor, Dr. Hagan!  Chukar22 - what about cross-country skiing?  I think it would be less risky than downhill and you would still find the experience enjoyable.  Thank you for mentioning "high anxiety" - I must admit I was over the top "crazy" when this first all happened.   Thank goodness for this forum!  This experience was just so out of the blue and a true reminder of how fragile this life of ours is.  So, I'm STILL waiting for the gas bubble to vanish.  Six weeks now (aaack!).   Ireland trip coming up on June 27th and I sure hope the heck it's gone at least two weeks before that trip.  I didn't even get the long lasting bubble!!  So my anxiety continues on - but I'm learning (trying) to be patient It's going to be a long road ahead for all of us - we just need to carry on.
I would remind you again that many people have posted here about their frustration and experience with gas/air bubbles inside the eye.  It is helpful to read them all.  One of my neighbors had bubble in the eye. He was asking daily when it would leave. Unfortunately its not predictable.  The most important thing, and (if you will excuse the pun) the most important thing not to lose sight of is a successful result. It's the eye you will be seeing through the rest of your life.  

And yes I've tried cross country skiing. One of many sports I've been bad at.  Most of my skiing is laying on my back looking at the sky and hoping I didn't break anything important.
Hi @MjCg - as Dr. Hagen wrote life is full of risks and I agree that we need to weigh risk/reward in making sensible decisions. I am not really a huge risk taker - no extreme sports or MMA or anything like that. I’ve tried cross country skiing and enjoy it. I skateboard, hike, bike, roller blade, and many other sports when I was younger. I think if I’m more careful with downhill skiing I should be okay. My surgeon said it may not have even been skiing that caused the RD. There’s no real way to tell. Perhaps it was lifting weights at the gym and the fall while skiing simply pushed it over the edge. The way I see it we are blessed with the means and ability to enjoy life, something most people are not afforded. I talked to my surgeon and got all the information I could, got his opinion of the degrees of risk and make my own decisions. I had to have a 2nd surgery and it seems to be healing this time. The gas bubble lasted longer this time so hopefully yours will go away in time. I think you should continue to get good information and advice, take care of yourself, and try not to worry too much and enjoy life. We never know how long we have or what might befall us so we should in my humble opinion pursue happiness as much as we can. Good luck!
Good life philosophy for everyone
Thank you both 8-)
@MjCg - Even though I’ve slowed down with age, I feel lucky to be in good health. It’s a quiet Memorial Day morning and I’m actually sitting in the Infusion Clinic at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, waiting for my mom while she gets her treatment for Multiple Myeloma. There are around 20 patients of all ages here waiting for infusion. I have a family history of cancer (sister had colon removed due to cancer), heart disease (dad has a fib and heart disease, brother had quad bypass before he was 50, grandfather had stroke and heart attack). So I feel blessed that I can do all the activities that I do. Who knows how long I will be able to be so blessed? Like they say you gotta live, love, laugh as much as you can. Enjoy Ireland.
Best of luck and much success with your mother's treatment.
@chukar22 - I am feeling very blessed these days.  I lost my own mother due to colon cancer when I was just 17; she was only 39.  My sister recently had open heart surgery, she just turned 65. I've not taken one day for granted since the passing of my mom.   My detached retina really threw me off though.  I never expected something like this!  Argh!  Total shock and total panic.   So, you live in Seattle?  I have always wanted to visit Seattle!!!  I'll need to do that after I return from Ireland (June 27-July 3).  By the way that dang bubble "left" around 12:40am this morning (June 2).  Almost 7 weeks to the day.  Finally!!!  I'm hopeful and so grateful to the retinal specialist who handled my surgery and continues to monitor my recovery (along with the fellows, residents, and nurses involved in my care) at the U-M Kellogg Eye Center in Ann Arbor.  I'm remain even more grateful to you who have read and responded to my post...  "May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand."
Maybe abide by this Irish saying:   the same.

"Always remember to forget
The things that made you sad.
But never forget to remember
The things that made you glad."
@MjCg Wow you have been through much and yet here you are about to enjoy a wonderful trip to Ireland. Life is indeed precious and it’s awesome that you carry a great outlook. Yes Seattle is a beautiful area and we really love it here. Moved here 16 years ago from New York City. I’ve never been to Ireland but I’m sure I will be at some point - my wife is Irish and she’s never been so it’s definitely on the list.
Great news @MjCg that the gas bubble has gone, that’s a major milestone.
One 'final' final follow-up... I've returned from my trip to Ireland.  It was fabulous!  My surgeon gave me the thumbs up to travel and I do not have to return to see him for one year (unless I develop any issues).  I have an appointment in November with a Cataract Surgeon to review the progress of a cataract accelerating post surgery.  I'm seeing 20/20 - though this took a bit of work finding the right optometrist.  I'm feeling more confident now that I'm close to 12 weeks since my vitrectomy.  So glad this forum is here because I was in a panic when I first wrote.  Best wishes to all!
Welcome back from the Emerald Isle.
@MjCg - welcome back! Glad you had a nice trip.
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