Sudden visual loss after removal of silicone oil

Retina. 2004 Dec;24(6):871-7. doi: 10.1097/00006982-200412000-00005.


Purpose: Removal of silicone oil after vitreoretinal surgery reduces potential complications of glaucoma and cataract and improves visual function in 30% of patients. We report the clinical findings of a series of patients who experienced unexpected and permanent visual loss after removal of silicone oil.

Methods: Seven patients with visual loss after removal of silicon oil were investigated with best-corrected Snellen visual acuity (BCVA) assessment, fundus biomicroscopy, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, and electrophysiologic examination.

Results: Six men and one woman (average age, 42.8 years.) presented with profound BCVA loss, averaging 4.7 Snellen lines (SD 1.4), after silicon oil removal. No other complications associated with oil removal were noted. The retina remained attached in all cases, no patient developed cystoid macular edema or epiretinal membrane, and optical coherence tomographic and fluorescein angiographic findings remained normal. Electrodiagnostic testing showed a range of abnormalities, with the majority of patients showing severe macular dysfunction.

Conclusions: We describe a new phenomenon of unexpected visual loss after oil removal in patients with good visual potential. The pathogenesis remains obscure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drainage / adverse effects*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Electroretinography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Retinal Detachment / surgery
  • Retinal Perforations / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Silicone Oils*
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Vision, Low / etiology*
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Field Tests


  • Silicone Oils