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Seungbum Kang, Henri Lorach, Mohajeet B. Bhuckory, Yi Quan, Roopa Dalal, Daniel Palanker; Retinal Laser Therapy Preserves Photoreceptors in a Rodent Model of MERTK-Related Retinitis Pigmentosa. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2019;8(4):19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.8.4.19.
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We investigated the effects of various retinal laser therapies on preservation of the photoreceptors in an animal model of Mer tyrosine kinase receptor (MERTK)–related retinitis pigmentosa (RP). These modalities included photocoagulation with various pattern densities, selective RPE therapy (SRT), and nondamaging retinal therapy (NRT).
Laser treatments were performed on right eyes of RCS rats, using one of three laser modalities. For photocoagulation, six pattern densities (spot spacings of 0.5, 1, 1.5, 3, 4, and 5 spot diameters) were delivered in 19-day-old animals, prior to the onset of photoreceptor degeneration, to determine the optimal treatment density for the best preservation of photoreceptors. The left eye was used as control. Rats were monitored for 6 months after treatment using electroretinography, optical coherence tomography, and histology.
Photocoagulation resulted in long-term preservation of photoreceptors, manifested morphologically and functionally, with the extent of the benefit dependent on the laser pattern density. Eyes treated with a 1.5 spot size spacing showed the best morphologic and functional preservation during the 6-month follow-up. SRT-treated eyes exhibited short-term morphologic preservation, but no functional benefit. NRT-treated eyes did not show any observable preservation benefit from the treatment.
In a rodent model of MERTK-related RP, pattern photocoagulation of about 15% of the photoreceptors (1.5 spot diameter spacing) provides long-term preservation of photoreceptors in the treatment area.
Availability of retinal lasers in ophthalmic practice enables rapid translation of our study to clinical testing and may help preserve the sight in patients with photoreceptor degeneration.
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