The experience of 55 consecutive individuals undergoing outpatient vitreoretinal surgery was evaluated. Objective variables, including preoperative and intraoperative information, subjective postoperative pain, and discomfort were measured with a previously validated 100 mm visual analogue scale. Patients also ranked the overall experience. Average pain and discomfort scores in the recovery room were 21.8 and 22.6 and overnight were 26.7 and 30.4 (scale 0 to 100), respectively. Eighty eight per cent of subjects were satisfied with the experience. Elevated pain and discomfort scores were statistically correlated with scleral buckling, prolonged surgical or recovery room time, requirement for parenteral pain medications, and high intraocular pressure on the first postoperative visit. None of the patients needed further hospital treatment. This study suggests that vitreoretinal surgery in an appropriately selected population does not require routine inpatient care.