Posterior subcapsular and nuclear cataract after vitrectomy

J Cataract Refract Surg. 2001 Mar;27(3):437-44. doi: 10.1016/s0886-3350(00)00585-x.


Purpose: To examine the morphological changes in the postvitrectomy lens and to monitor the development of these changes over time.

Setting: Oxford Eye Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Methods: In this prospective study, 33 consecutive phakic patients having pars plana vitrectomy were recruited. Cataract development was quantified by clinical grading and digital Scheimpflug image analysis. Slitlamp biomicroscopy and photography were used to document the morphological appearance. The main outcome measures were the incidence, morphology, and development of posterior subcapsular and nuclear cataract.

Results: A characteristic, transient posterior subcapsular cataract (PSC) was present in 89% (17 of 19) of tamponade patients within 24 hours of surgery. Of the patients who had vitrectomy without tamponade, 9% (1 of 11) developed similar changes. Nuclear opacity developed in 61% (11 of 18) of tamponade patients and in 50% (3 of 6) of nontamponade patients. A longer term retrospective review of the same patients' case notes revealed nuclear cataract in 67% (12 of 18) of tamponade cases and 30% (3 of 10) of nontamponade cases. Eighteen percent (2 of 11) of nontamponade cases and 67% (14 of 21) of tamponade cases had cataract surgery after a 10.7 month and a 12.4 month follow-up, respectively.

Conclusions: Vitrectomy and tamponade produced a characteristic transient PSC in the immediate postoperative period. Disruption of fluid balance in the region of the posterior lens was suggested by the morphological appearance. The acute changes resolved but were followed by accelerated nuclear opacification.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cataract / diagnosis
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Fluorocarbons / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lens Capsule, Crystalline / pathology*
  • Lens Nucleus, Crystalline / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Photography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinal Diseases / surgery
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride / therapeutic use
  • Vitrectomy / adverse effects*


  • Fluorocarbons
  • perflutren
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride