Temperature changes in vitrectomy

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Examining the temperature changes in the vitreous and retina and possible side effects

"Therapeutic hypothermia is being used more and more throughout medicine these days, with many benefits, but also with some possible bad side effects," he continued. "We determined that that we are in fact inducing hypothermia to the retina and vitreous during vitrectomy with unknown (but probably minimal) side effects."

Effect of temperature

"Fortunately," Dr Landers added, "using room temperature infusion fluid during a victrectomy, which induces hypothermia in the retina and vitreous (and probably other structures inside the eye, such as the lens) seems to have minimal side effects."

One of the main concerns and side effects of vitrectomy is cataract. "Many patients undergoing a vitrectomy develop a cataract in their lens sooner than in their nonvitrectomized eye. We don't know the reason for this. It is just possible that it is somehow related to the induced hypothermia... but this is still speculative," he explained.

The study

This prospective study, however, included only six patients and Dr Landers emphasized a need for further research to fully examine what possible effects this change in temperature could have. "Ideally, a larger and longerterm study shoud be performed, possibly even a controlled study that compares the effects of room temperature infusion fluid and warmer, possibly body temperature, infusion fluid to see if the warmed fluid produces fewer cataracts," Dr Landers said. "We are continuing our measurements to obtain larger data sets and we are also testing differing conditions, such as retinal detachments and other situations."

Special contributor

Dr Reece Landers, MD, is a vitreoretinal surgeon at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. He may be reached by Email:

Dr Landers has no financial interests in the subject matter.


1. M.B. Landers 3rd et al., Retina, 2012; 32(1):172–176.