Foulsham W, Chen XN, Vavvas DG. ALTITUDE-ASSOCIATED INTRAOCULAR PRESSURE CHANGES IN A GAS-FILLED EYE. Retin Cases Brief Rep 2021;15(5):564-567.

Date Published:

2021 Sep 01


PURPOSE: Intraocular gases are commonly used in vitreoretinal surgery. Patients are routinely advised against air travel before the complete absorption of intraocular gas. Consequently, reports on air travel in patients with large intraocular gas bubbles are highly unusual. Here, we report the intraocular pressure changes of a patient ascending to an altitude of 2,600 feet in a helicopter with a 50% fill perfluoropropane (C3F8) gas bubble in his left eye. METHODS: Case report and literature review. RESULTS: A 61-year-old male patient underwent pars plana vitrectomy for a rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, with fluid-gas exchange using 16% C3F8. With a 50% fill bubble in the left eye, the patient took a short helicopter trip ascending to a maximum altitude of 2,600 feet. Before take-off, intraocular pressure in the operated eye was 14 mmHg. The average increase in intraocular pressure was 10.8 mmHg per 1,000 feet of ascent, with a maximum recorded intraocular pressure of 42 mmHg. The patient denied both ocular pain and loss of vision but did report changes in the appearance of the gas bubble meniscus at 2,100 feet. CONCLUSION: Short-term low-altitude air travel may be tolerated by some patients with intraocular gas in situ. Further studies are required to define the conditions by which patients with gas bubbles may fly safely.

Last updated on 09/30/2021