In some vitrectomy cases, a gas bubble is placed inside the eyeball instead of saline solution after the vitreous gel is removed. This procedure is commonly used in macular hole surgery and retinal detachment repair.
The gas bubble is used to seal holes or tears in the retina while postoperative healing is taking place. For this reason, the patient is often asked to assume a specific position following vitrectomy with gas infusion.
The purpose is to float the gas bubble against the area of diseased or torn retina while it heals. One can think of a gas bubble like a cast. It holds the retina in place until it is healed from surgery. For example, in macular hole surgery, the patient is often asked to assume a face-down position. Since the macula is in the center of vision, the bubble floats against gravity to the macula when the head is positioned toward the floor (see animation). In retinal detachment, tears can occur in almost any location; the patient will often be asked to position in such a way that floats the bubble against the tear while the laser treatment is sealing.
A gas bubble blurs the vision for 2-8 weeks, depending upon the type and concentration of gas used. The gas gradually dissipates on its own; patients often noticed a curved shadow in their vision from the face of the bubble as it gradually recedes.