Intraocular Foreign Body (IOFB) Treatment & Management

Updated: Jan 15, 2023
  • Author: Ferenc Kuhn, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Inci Irak Dersu, MD, MPH  more...
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Medical Care

Systemic and topical antibiotic therapy may be started prior to the surgical intervention. Topical corticosteroids also are important to minimize the inflammation. A tetanus booster may be appropriate.


Surgical Care

The timing of intervention primarily is determined by whether the risk for endophthalmitis is high. If the risk is high, immediate (emergency) surgery, for intraocular foreign body (IOFB) removal as well as vitrectomy if the IOFB is in the posterior segment, is indicated. [10] In most other cases, the surgeon has the option of deferring intervention for a few days to reduce the risk of intraoperative hemorrhage. The wound, however, should be closed as soon as possible. A study by Zhang et al examined 1421 eyes in 15 hospitals in China over 5 years and concluded that closing the primary wound within 24 hours, whether by repair or independent self-sealing, reduces the endophthalmitis risk. [11] If endophthalmitis occurs, it is present at the time of patient presentation in over 90% of the cases. [12, 13]

IOFBs in the anterior chamber are typically removed through a paracentesis (not through the original wound) performed at 90-180° from where the IOFB is located. Viscoelastics should be used to reduce the risk of iatrogenic damage to the corneal endothelium and the lens.

An intralenticular IOFB does not necessarily cause cataract. Unless there is a risk of siderosis or the loss to follow-up is high, the IOFB and the lens may be left in situ. Otherwise, usually, the IOFB is extracted first, the lens is extracted second, and an intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted simultaneously. [14]

A posterior segment IOFB requires a vitrectomy, unless the tissue damage is minimal. The posterior hyaloid should always be removed, and any deep impact should be prophylactically treated against proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) (see below). For the actual removal, the best tool to extract a ferrous IOFB is a strong intraocular magnet. For nonmagnetic IOFBs, a proper forceps or a lasso may be used. External electromagnets should not be used since they do not allow controlled extraction. [15, 16, 17, 18]

Rarely, a scleral cut-down is used.

If the IOFB has caused a deep impact (ie, involving the choroid), prophylactic chorioretinectomy is recommended. Using the highest setting of the diathermy machine, the probe is used to destroy the retina and the choroid around the impact site, thereby leaving a bare sclera to surround the impact site. [19] In early clinical tests, this procedure has proven to be very effective in preventing both PVR and radiating retinal folds. The same technique may be used if a chronic IOFB is found to be causing full-thickness folds in the macula, a pathologic condition that tends to be highly disturbing to the patient. [20]



No activity restriction is necessary once the wound heals and there is no need for positioning.