We specialize in the medical and surgical treatment of disorders involving the retina
Welcome to the website of the South African Vitreoretinal Society, which represents ophthalmologists who have an interest in diseases of the Vitreous and Retina. Our society is committed to informing patients and clinicians about advances in the management of Vitreoretinal disease.
Registered members are encouraged to access the secure site by Log In. Members of the public may access the open section to locate members and find out more about the Society and commonly treated conditions.
What is vitreoretinal surgery?
Conditions commonly evaluated and treated by our physicians include retinal tears and detachments, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, ocular trauma, ocular tumors, inflammatory ocular conditions, hereditary retinal diseases and a variety of less common, highly complex disorders. We utilize the most advanced, state-of-the-art techniques to provide the best treatment available today for vision threatening diseases.
Requirements for membership include being resident in South Africa and being a fully registered ophthalmologist with an interest in diseases of the retina and vitreous. Registrars are not eligible for membership.
The retina is a thin layer of nerve tissue which lines the back of the eye. The macular is the most sensitive portion of the retina and is responsible for the high definition central vision required for tasks such as reading, watching television, using a computer and driving.A macular hole is a small hole in this area of the retina caused by degenerative changes in the vitreous, which is the jelly like substance which fills the back portion of the eye. The symptoms of a macular hole are blurred central vision with or without some distortion. You may battle to read with this eye and will often have difficulty in judging distances and may find activities like climbing steps difficult.
A macular hole requires surgery to repair and this is performed by removing the jelly from the back of the eye (a vitrectomy operation) and filling the eye with gas, which will push the edges of the hole together and close the hole. Surgical success is achieved in 90% of patients with one surgery.After the surgery, the vision is initially poor because of the gas bubble in the eye which does not allow the light entering the eye to be focussed. This gas bubble is gradually absorbed over a period of three to six weeks, and in this time, the vision will slowly improve. Realistically one seldom gets a 100% visual recovery after this procedure, but the vast majority of people will notice an improvement in the quality of their vision and should have relief from symptoms such as distortion and difficulty in judging distances. The recovery depends on the size of the hole, and the duration of the hole.
After the surgery, the vision is initially poor because of the gas bubble in the eye which does not allow the light entering the eye to be focussed. This gas bubble is gradually absorbed over a period of three to six weeks, and in this time, the vision will slowly improve. Realistically one seldom gets a 100% visual recovery after this procedure, but the vast majority of people will notice an improvement in the quality of their vision and should have relief from symptoms such as distortion and difficulty in judging distances. The recovery depends on the size of the hole, and the duration of the hole.After the surgery you may be required to posture in a specific position so that the gas bubble is centred over the hole and can adequately push the edges of the hole closed. The visual recovery from this surgery is slow and usually takes in the region of three to six months.
It is also crucial that one does not travel to altitude and one does not fly in an aeroplane as long as there is a gas bubble in the eye. Travel to altitude may result in a change in the pressure inside the eye as the gas bubble may expand and this can have catastrophic results.
The surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic and requires a one night stay in the hospital. It is sometimes possible to perform this procedure under local anaesthetic if there is a medical reason as to why you would not be suitable for a general anaesthetic.
There is usually not much pain following the procedure. Initially one may feel that the eye is a bit scratchy, but this usually settles very quickly. The vast majority of procedures are performed using a sutureless technique which has dramatically helped speed up the recovery time. The complications of this procedure include a retinal tear, a retinal detachment, cataract formation and an infection in the eye called endophthalmitis. These aspects will be discussed with you during the pre-operative consultations.