To assess the retinal macrophage response to cannulation of the anterior chamber (AC) and acute elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP) in adult mice. METHODS: Eyes from 12 month old C57BL/6J WT mice were subject to IOP increase (50 mmHg for 30 minutes) by direct cannulation of the AC. Fellow eyes were either cannulated without pressure increase or left untreated. Electroretinography was carried out prior to IOP elevation and 1 week later. Immunofluorescence staining was performed on frozen sections and retinal whole mounts 1 week after sham and IOP elevation. Eyes were assessed by epifluorescence and confocal microscopy and the density of vitreal hyalocytes and subretinal macrophages was calculated. RESULTS: The density of hyalocytes and subretinal macrophages was significantly increased 1 week after IOP elevation and AC cannulation compared to naive eyes. CD68 and MHC Class II expression was upregulated in both cannulated eyes and eyes with elevated IOP. Electroretinographic signals derived from retinal ganglion cells were significantly reduced in response to acute IOP elevation but not in response to cannulation alone. CONCLUSIONS: Cannulation of the AC causes an increase in hyalocyte density, microglial activation and accumulation of macrophages in the subretinal space. These macrophage changes are similar to those observed in eyes subject to IOP elevation. Additional IOP elevation led to significant Muller cell activation, which was not evident after cannulation alone. These data highlight the importance of using appropriate controls in models of acute retinal injury.