In order to ascertain the tamponade effect of air and silicone oil we examined the contact angles subtended by ex vivo human retina, Teflon and Perspex to find a suitable experimental material which would mimic the surface properties of the retina at a three-phase interface. Using the captive bubble technique to measure the contact angle, it was found that air subtended a larger contact angle (38.8 degrees) with the retina than did silicone oil (18.2 degrees). On coating the Perspex surface with protein (PCP), it was observed that the surface properties were modified such that PCP subtended contact angles with air (43.0 degrees) and silicone oil (16.4 degrees) similar to those subtended by ex vivo human retina. Using PCP as an experimental material that mimics ex vivo human retina, spherical chambers were employed in order to examine qualitatively and to quantify the arc of contact obtained with air and silicone oil. It was found that air gave a greater arc of contact for the same percentage fill than silicone oil.