Forty-four patients who had undergone successful vitreoretinal surgery were included in a retrospective study intended to evaluate the real benefit of surgery in each case. All patients presented with a retinal detachment complicated by proliferative vitreoretinopathy in one eye, the fellow eye being healthy. The number of operations undergone by each patient and the total operating time per patient were carefully recorded. Objective parameters such as visual acuity, visual field and stereoscopic function were monitored. Visual comfort and subjective complaints were graded by means of a questionnaire given to the patients. Any severe event occurring in the fellow eye during the follow-up period was also registered. Sophisticated vitreoretinal surgery in patients with a good fellow eye is useful to the patient if binocular function can be restored at least partially. Correction of unilateral aphakia by a contact lens should not be considered an acceptable solution.