Macular Hole Treatment

Macular Hole Treatment

Swedish provides advanced treatment for all kinds of vision problems — including macular holes. Our surgical facilities are fully equipped and state-of-the-art. And our highly skilled ophthalmic surgeons, nurses and technicians bring a high level of experience and teamwork to every surgical procedure.


Appointments & Referrals

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To schedule a routine eye exam, or consult with a physician about surgery, contact a Swedish ophthalmologist.


About macular holes

What is a macular hole?
The macula is the central area of the retina responsible for sharp, central and color vision. The retina, a light-sensing membrane that lines the back of the eye, captures and transmits images to the brain. When a hole develops in the macula, central vision may be blurred, making it difficult to read, watch television and recognize familiar faces.

What causes a macular hole?
The most common cause of a macular hole is localized pulling on the retina by the vitreous — the clear, gel-like substance that normally fills the inside back of the eye. This tugging may initially cause mild blurring of vision as the retina becomes thinner. If an actual hole develops, people are aware of a small blind spot in their central vision.

Who gets macular holes?
While macular holes may result from trauma to or inflammation of the eye, they are usually related to aging, occurring most often in the last decade of life. As a person ages, the vitreous often separates from the surface of the retina, typically without damaging the retina or vision. However, in a small percentage of people, the separation of the vitreous causes a macular hole.

What are the treatment options?
Surgery is the only recommended treatment for a macular hole.

Is treatment necessary?
Yes. Early diagnosis and treatment are absolutely essential to help reverse some of the vision loss caused by a macular hole. If the condition is discovered in the early stages, before an actual hole has developed, the chances of restoring vision are greater.

What's involved in surgical treatment?
The surgical procedure used to treat macular holes is called a vitrectomy. During this procedure, your ophthalmologist will use a high-powered microscope and delicate surgical instruments to cut the connected bands of vitreous away from the retina and remove the shrunken vitreous. The eye is then filled with a large air or gas bubble that presses against the macular hole until a scar is formed to seal the hole. The bubble may remain in the eye for up to six weeks, but will eventually be absorbed by the body. General or local anesthesia may be used.

How safe is surgery?
There are risks with any type of surgery. However, macular-hole surgery is relatively safe. In fact, during the past 10 years, surgery to treat macular holes has become increasingly common. Because this procedure can help reverse some vision loss, patients often feel the benefits outweigh the risks.

Will treatment fully restore my vision?
Once a macular hole has developed, surgery may not fully restore central vision. However, many patients will experience substantial improvement.

Are there any complications from macular-hole surgery?
Complications may occur, but they are infrequent, and the vast majority are treatable. They include infection, bleeding, cataract formation and retinal detachment.

How long can I expect the surgery to last?
The length of the surgery ranges from one to several hours, depending on your condition.

How much discomfort should I expect after surgery and in the days to follow?
Your eye will be covered with a bandage and metal shield. Some slight pain and nausea may occur, but it's usually temporary. You'll be given medication to relieve these problems.

What happens after surgery?
You'll most likely go home after a short stay in the recovery area of the Swedish Eye Center. However, the surgery itself is only part of the formula for success. Your ophthalmologist will ask you to lie face down as much as possible for seven to 10 days after surgery. This is done to keep the air bubble over the macular hole until new tissue grows across the hole, providing a permanent seal. Your vision may be blurry until the bubble dissolves. Your doctor will probably also recommend that you avoid increases in altitude — plane rides, especially — while the bubble is in your eye. Most people resume their normal activities and return to work two weeks after surgery.

Will I need any follow-up visits?
Your ophthalmologist will want to see you the day after surgery and again for regular checkups to monitor your healing.

What will be different after surgery?
Many of the people who have undergone eye surgery report an improved outlook on life, as well as improved vision.