The Advantage of Small Incision Vitreo-retinal Surgery

The Early Days of Vitreo-Retinal Surgery

A vitrectomy is an ophthalmologic surgery preformed by a retinal surgeon to remove the vitreous (the jelly in the back of the eye). The surgery was introduced by Dr. Robert Machemer about 40 years ago using very large and, by today’s standards, very crude instruments.

During the 1990s, 20 gauge vitrectomy became the standard. Gauge refers to the size of the instruments (needles are listed in gauge). The higher the gauge number the smaller the instrument in circumference. The 20 gauge instruments where inserted into the eye through an 1.1 mm incision. While this is small, the wounds still need a suture at the end of the surgery

Modern Vitreo-Retinal Surgery Technique

In 2002  a new age of vitreo-retinal surgery was introduced to the world. The 25 gauge vitrectomy soon became the new choice for retinal surgeons. The incision is just 0.5 mm and does not usually require a suture. Like modern day cataract surgery, the small incision vitreo-retinal surgery offers many advantages to the patient. There is decreased post surgical inflammation, less visual distortion after the surgery, less risk of infection, a faster visual recovery and improved comfort for the patient.  On less complex surgeries such as a vitrectomy for floaters, the risk of serious complications is around the same as modern cataract surgery. This is why today we can offer surgery for floaters, where in the past the risk was thought to be  too high.

How is Retinal Surgery Done

The surgery is often done on an outpatient basis with the patient awake. The eye is numbed with local anesthetic so that  the patient is comfortable. The patient goes home with a patch and is seen in the clinic the next day. Usually drops are given after the surgery to be used for a week or so. With the new 25 gauge systems,the down time for the patient is much less then in the past.

Sarasota Retina Institute Retinal Surgeons

Dr. Waldemar Torres and Dr. Melvin Chen both offer this cutting edge eye surgery for our patients. This procedure is preformed at Sarasota Memorial Hospital or St. Andrews Surgery center. Both places offer the newest, most advanced systems for 25 gauge vitrectomy. This enables us to offer patients the chance for the best possible outcome.

If you would like to be evaluated by one of our retinal surgeons for your retinal problems, or to talk about possible having those pesky floaters removed, please call 941-921-5335.


Waldemar Torres, MD

Vitreo-Retinal Surgeon

Sarasota Retina Institute

Sarasota, Florida 



  1. Enno Kaany MD says:

    I have post cataract surgery significant floaters. What is the cost for vitrectomy and does medicare pay for this procedure

    • Jody Abrams, M.D. says:

      Yes medicare can cover the cost of the surgery if the floaters are interfering with your vision. This becomes a medical problem. I would recommend that you see Dr Torres at our clinic for an evaluation of this problem. After evaluation he can help with the medicare coverage. If it is not enough to be covered (most are covered though) he can discuss the cash cost at that time. Please call 941-921-5335 to schedule with him. He tells me some of the happiest patients he has are the ones that have their floaters fixed.

      Jody Abrams, MD

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