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Kamal R. Dhakal, Sarah Walters, Juliette E. McGregor, Christina Schwarz, Jennifer M. Strazzeri, Ebrahim Aboualizadeh, Brittany Bateman, Krystel R. Huxlin, Jennifer J. Hunter, David R. Williams, William H. Merigan; Localized Photoreceptor Ablation Using Femtosecond Pulses Focused With Adaptive Optics. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2020;9(7):16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.9.7.16.
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The development of new approaches to human vision restoration could be greatly accelerated with the use of nonhuman primate models; however, there is a paucity of primate models of outer retina degeneration with good spatial localization. To limit ablation to the photoreceptors, we developed a new approach that uses a near-infrared ultrafast laser, focused using adaptive optics, to concentrate light in a small focal volume within the retina.
In the eyes of eight anesthetized macaques, 187 locations were exposed to laser powers from 50 to 210 mW. Laser exposure locations were monitored for up to 18 months using fluorescein angiography (FA), optical coherence tomography (OCT), scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO), adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) reflectance imaging, two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF) ophthalmoscopy, histology, and calcium responses of retinal ganglion cells.
This method produced localized photoreceptor loss with minimal axial spread of damage to other retinal layers, verified by in-vivo structural imaging and histologic examination, although in some cases evidence of altered autofluorescence was found in the adjacent retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Functional assessment using blood flow imaging of the retinal plexus and calcium imaging of the response of ganglion cells above the photoreceptor loss shows that inner retinal circuitry was preserved.
Although different from a genetic model of retinal degeneration, this model of localized photoreceptor loss may provide a useful testbed for vision restoration studies in nonhuman primates.
With this model, a variety of vision restoration methods can be tested in the non-human primate.
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