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Ying Xiao, Yuqin Wang, Fangting Li, Tiezhu Lin, Kristyn Huffman, Stephanie Landeros, Brandon Bosse, Yi Jing, Dirk-Uwe Bartsch, Scott Thorogood, William R. Freeman, Lingyun Cheng; Acute Rabbit Eye Model for Testing Subretinal Prostheses. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2019;8(5):20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.8.5.20.
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Subretinal prostheses are a novel technology for restoring useful vision in patients with retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration. We characterize the surgical implantation technique and functional time window of an acute rabbit eye model for testing of human subretinal prostheses.
Retinal prostheses were implanted subretinally in 26 rabbits using a two-step technique. Fundus imaging, fluorescein fundus angiography, and optical coherence topography (OCT) were conducted postoperatively from days 1 to 21 to monitor prosthesis positioning and retinal anatomic changes.
Successful implantation and excellent retina apposition were achieved in 84.6% of the rabbits. OCTs showed the overlying retina at full thickness for the first 2 days after implantation. Histology confirmed intact inner layers of the overlying retina until day 3. Progressive atrophy of the overlying retina was revealed by repeated OCTs; approximately 40% of the retina thickness remained on postoperative days 5 and 6.
The two-step implantation technique works well for the rabbit eye model with human prostheses. Rabbit retina may be used for acute electrophysiologic testing of a retinal prosthesis, but is unsuitable for chronic studies due to the merangiotic retina and its limited time window of validity.
The improved efficacy in prosthesis surgery using this technique will circumvent the challenges in animal models that provide human-like features critical for the transition into human clinical trials.
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