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Clinicopathologic Report
October 1999

Corneal Epithelial Toxic Effects and Inflammatory Response to Perfluorocarbon Liquid

Author Affiliations

From the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion (Drs Ramaesh, Bhagat, and Singh) and the Neuropathology Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Western General Hospital (Dr Wharton), Edinburgh, Scotland.



Arch Ophthalmol. 1999;117(10):1411-1413. doi:10.1001/archopht.117.10.1411

We report an unusual case of corneal epithelial toxic effects associated with perfluorocarbon liquids (PFCLs). The clinical and histopathologic findings are described. An elderly man underwent vitreoretinal surgery for a complicated retinal detachment. Perfluorodecalin was used to repair the retina. It was left in situ for 8 weeks and removed via the pars plana. One month after removal of heavy liquids the patient developed a nonhealing corneal epithelial defect associated with limbitis. Perfluorodecalin was found under the superior conjunctiva. A conjunctival biopsy revealed the presence of vacuoles in the conjunctival stroma surrounded by an inflammatory response that consisted of lymphocytes, macrophages, and giant cells. On surgical removal of the PFCL from the subconjunctival space, the epithelial defect healed. The histopathologic and clinical evidence suggest that the inflammatory response and corneal epithelial ulceration were caused by the prolonged presence of PFCL in the subconjunctival space. To the best of our knowledge, PFCLs have not previously been reported to cause corneal epithelial defects or incite an inflammatory response in the human eye.