Advice, Tips, and Hints
(A helpful way to better recovery.)
This page is designed to give helpful hints on how to deal with the vitrectomy surgery and the recovery period to it. Although we have carefully put this document together, we cannot be responsible for any injuries created from these hints and tips. Always consult your doctor before attempting something you feel might be dangerous.
Before your vitrectomy, make sure to understand the procedure being done to you. It is crucial to prepare for the vitrectomy and the recovery so you will not be staggered later on. Sharing your complete medical history with your doctor is very, very important. Little things like seasonal allergies may potentially increase the amount of swelling from the accumulation of fluid in the sinuses. Ask your doctor questions. If you don't understand the answer given the surgeon has given you, ask the question again. It is helpful to have a list of written questions and space for the answers ready prior to each visit. Try not to feel overwhelmed; when it comes down to the facts, this is a simple procedure.
It is much easier to get your home set up before the surgery. Prior to your surgery, you should take care of your chores such as paying bills, and doing enough laundry to supply your clothing needs. You may choose to prepare meals that are easily frozen then thawed such as soups and casseroles. Remember your face down positioning starts when you leave the operating room. It is helpful to practice your positioning for a few hours at home prior to surgery to get adjusted to any problems in advance.
Once you know what will be done during the vitrectomy, it is wise to prepare and know about the healing process after the surgery. Having our Vitrectomy Support Systems prior to the surgery is not only smart, but recommended – reserve your equipment as soon as possible.
There might be swelling and tenderness (sometimes bruising) around the outside of the eye. You may feel pressure at first, but expect pain. Uncontrolled pain may hinder the immune system that aids healing and fights infection, so keeping your pain under control may be necessary to help you heal faster. "Leaking" from the tear duct is initially uncontrollable and normal, so if you experience this side effect, placing some tissues near your bed and chair is advised. Sleeping pattern tends to change with many patients. We suggest for you to take periodic naps so you do not become over-fatigued. Some may experience changes in taste, smell, and noise tolerance. Lack of depth perception may be difficult; you might discover the safety issues involved. Try to structure your living space as open and safe as possible.
Compliance is everything, especially in vitrectomies. It is also one of the most difficult to achieve. Keep yourself distracted and the things you use the most (tissue, snacks, drinks, etc.) should be closest to you physically. Taping lunch-sized bags to the chair and armrest for used tissues will eliminate the need for multiple, space-grabbing receptacles. Ask for and accept help from friends. Expect good days and not so good days. Don't expect too much of yourself and try to be positive; it helps the immune system. Identify what comforts you and do it often. Above all communicate with your doctor; there are usually solutions to problems you haven't thought of or don't know.
You should avoid bringing your chin to your chest as you eat, since this may affect swallowing. It is easier to bend at the waist and less with your neck for comfort while eating. A low TV tray, stool or coffee table will serve as excellent platforms. Prepare softer foods that are easier to chew and swallow with your head down. Keep refrigerated items on the lower shelved, and food on the counters, not up in cupboards. Do not raise your head to drink. Instead, use a straw. The low table that you use to eat from may also be in ideal place to rest your glass. (If you take oral medications that are difficult to swallow, you may need to break them into pieces, or mix them in soft food. They can also be dissolved in apple juice or other liquids.)
It may be easier to take a bath rather than a shower with your head down. A hand held shower massager can be very useful. Rearrange your soap, shampoo, etc. to a lower level so that you can reach them easily while bathing. During your period of face down positioning, wear a button-up shirt and avoiding sweatshirts, T-shirts and anything that will be required to pull over your head. Things that you can easily slip on and off, such as sweatpants, shorts, bath-robes, house coats and pajamas are recommended and will make your day easier.
You may need to use a laxative if you are prone to constipation, due to the relative inactivity during this period.
Facing down at night will be the most challenging practice you will have to face. But with a little practice, some patience, and some discipline, you will be able to face down effectively. With the use of only one eye, you may experience change in brightness. Having a flashlight handy can help you with some "extra" lighting. Your ability to remain face down while sleeping or awake for extended times depends on how the rest of your body feels. Make sure you are not cluttered on bunched up sheets or having cold feet; this might annoy and agitate you, causing stress. If you have uncontrollable "leaking" from the tear duct, it is very wise to place tissues near your bed in where it is easily accessible.
If sleeping face down with the equipment prior to the surgery can be done, practice sleeping face down. If you feel agitated and uncomfortable, use extra pillows to your sides to help you lay still. An alternative to keeping your face down is to tape a tennis ball to the upper back; if you roll over onto it, you'll know it.
Keeping your head down for seven or more days can get boring. It is helpful if you plan ahead. It is useful to move around. Short walks or light exercise is encouraged. Reading results in a rapid eye movements and is discouraged. We have put together a list that we believe is the best things to do as a pastime activity:
- Listening to music, radio, tapes, CDs, etc.
- Books on tape/CD
- Relaxation tapes/CDs
- Playing with hand squeeze toys
- Playing board games with a partner
- Talking on the phone with speaker capabilities
- Reading/Writing (With a doctor's permission.)
- Watching TV/Videos/DVDs (With a doctor's permission.)
(Note: Please consult with your doctor about any activities you wish to perform written in this page.)