Vitreoretinal surgical techniques have evolved during the last decades because of the development and evolution of pars plana vitrectomy. The introduction of modern vitrectomy is credited to Robert Machemer (1933–2009). The aim of this review is to characterize the early developments of vitreous removal.
We used the PubMed web platform to search the terms: complications of cataract surgery, vitrectomy, vitreous body, vitreous humor, vitreous humour, vitreous tap, and vitreous transplantation. Other publications were also considered as a potential source of information when referenced in relevant articles.
The first description of vitreous removal for treatment of eye disorders dates the 17th century; it was conducted by a Dutch surgeon Anton Nuck (1650–1692) in a case of hydrophthalmia. In English literature, the first description of vitrectomy is attributed to the American surgeon John Collins Warren (1778–1856). This method was implemented in the spontaneous dislocation of the crystalline lens. As the fibrillar structure of the vitreous once destroyed could not be regenerated, the researchers aimed to restore the chemical composition of the vitreous. For several decades, vitreous transplantation was performed for the treatment of vitreous hemorrhages and retinal detachment.
Although the achievements of vitreoretinal surgery preceding Machemer's inventions are uncommonly reported, they have contributed to the concept and understanding of the treatment modalities.