AIM--To describe the phenomenon of peripheral field loss following routine pars plana vitrectomy for stage 2 and 3 full thickness macular hole and to investigate the underlying mechanism. METHODS--Five patients, who reported peripheral field defects after apparently uncomplicated vitrectomy, posterior cortical vitreous peeling, and perfluoropropane (C3F8) gas tamponade, were studied retrospectively with slit-lamp biomicroscopy, automated and kinetic perimetry, fundal fluorescein angiography, focal electroretinography (ERG), and colour contrast sensitivity (CCS) testing. RESULTS--All five patients, who were between 50 and 73 years of age, reported an inferotemporal field defect following resolution of the intraocular gas bubble. In all eyes, the scotomata encroached to within 20 degrees to 30 degrees of fixation and to within 5 degrees to 15 degrees of the blind spot. In one eye, a partial altitudinal component was evident. All scotomata subsequently remained stable and three eyes developed subtle segmental nasal disc pallor and nerve fibre loss corresponding to the field defect. CCS testing revealed absent colour contrast in the scotomatous area, in the presence of a preserved focal quadrantic flash ERG, compared with normal CCS protan thresholds and focal ERGs in unaffected quadrants, indicating preserved outer retinal function in the area of the scotoma. CONCLUSIONS--These observations support the hypothesis that field defects occur as a result of retinal nerve fibre layer damage. It is proposed, on the basis of intraoperative observations and other evidence, that the most likely site of nerve fibre damage is at the nasal portion of the optic nerve rim or peripapillary retina, probably due to traction during cortical vitreous peeling.
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