Post-operative Positioning Following Vitrectomy Surgery
Why is post-operative head positioning necessary?
During vitrectomy surgery, a gas bubble or silicone oil may be used to help close a macular hole
or seal a retinal tear from a retinal detachment. Head positioning is needed to assure that the
bubble presses against the hole or tear so it can seal. The bubble floats toward the ceiling. Your
retinal surgeon will ask you to place your head so that the bubble rises toward the retina in the
back of your eye. For example, a macular hole is in the center of the retina so your nose will be
pointed directly at the floor. A retinal detachment repair may mean you will be lying on your
side or tilting your head.
Post-operative positioning chairs
Using a post-op positioning chair will let you be more
comfortable. You will be in the correct position, especially
if you need to have your face down. Before your surgery
you will be given information to order what is needed. It is
strongly recommended that you use this equipment,
especially after macular hole surgery.
Common questions about positioning after
1. How long do I have to position? After macular hole surgery, 1 week of face down
positioning is common. Your retinal surgeon will go over the needed time with you.
2. Can I take breaks during the day? As a rule of thumb, you should be positioning 50
minutes of every hour. You should take 10 minute breaks to stretch your neck muscles,
use the bathroom, shower, and eat.
3. Are there other ways to position? Some patients find it more comfortable to sit in a
chair and lay their head on a pillow on a desk or table. You can also sit in a chair with
your nose pointed at the floor without a positioning device. This may be more of a strain
on your neck. Walking around the house with your nose pointed at the floor is okay for
4. How do I put my drops in? You will have to look up at the ceiling to put the drops in.
This short break will not cause any damage.
5. Do I hurt my eye by not positioning? No, this will not hurt your eye but your surgical
repair may not be as successful.
6. May I read or use my computer? You may read a book or use your computer placed
7. Can I watch TV? You can watch TV with a mirror below you that is pointed towards
the TV. This is safe and will help pass the time. The rented positioning equipment has a
mirror for watching TV.
8. How about sleeping? The positioning equipment has a donut pillow that can be used in
bed. This can be difficult and not as comfortable to use. Lying on your side and turning
your nose towards the mattress is a good position. Your doctor can show you how this is
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Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 1/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospital and
Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7512