Effect of changes in PCO2 and body positions on intraocular pressure during general anaesthesia

Acta Ophthalmol (Copenh). 1981 Aug;59(4):465-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.1981.tb08331.x.


Elevated arterial carbon dioxide tension, induced by the administration of CO2 via the respiratory air or by hypoventilation, entailed a gradual increase in the IOP in patients without eye diseases under general anaesthesia. A sudden cessation of CO2 administration or hyperventilation caused such a rapid, simultaneous fall in IOP to values below the initial level that the pressure variations must be of vascular nature, presumably related to changes in choroidal blood volume. The above-mentioned procedures always cause a change in the central venous pressure (CVP) simultaneously with the IOP changes. Alterations of the CVP induced by hydrostatic factors in postural changes, placing the head 15 degrees above or below the horizontal level while keeping the PaCO2 constant, caused IOP changes of the same configuration and magnitude as described above. It is concluded, therefore, that presumably the CO2-conditioned IOP changes are due predominantly to changes in central venous pressure, being one link in a CO2-conditioned action upon the general circulation, entailing passive secondary changes in the choroidal venous blood volume and thereby an influence upon the IOP. On the basis of the present results it appears rational to recommend hyperventilation to keep the PaCO2 between 25 and 30 mm and a 15 degree anti-Trendelenburg position in operations on the eye under general anaesthesia, since both procedures afford a low central venous pressure and consequently a low pressure in the posterior segment of the eye, with its attendant advantages as regards vitreous complications and the insertion of intraocular lenses. Owing to the risk of an unacceptable fall in BP in the combined procedure, a frequent checking of the BP is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, General*
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacology*
  • Central Venous Pressure / drug effects*
  • Choroid / blood supply
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / drug effects*
  • Lenses, Intraocular / methods
  • Posture


  • Carbon Dioxide