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Arch Ophthalmol. 1992 Dec;110(12):1786-92.

Response of the retinal pigment epithelium to selective photocoagulation.

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Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.


Multiple short argon laser pulses can coagulate the retinal pigment epithelium selectively, while sparing the adjacent neural retina and choroid; in contrast, continuous-wave laser irradiation typically damages the neural retina and choroid. The healing response to selective photocoagulation of the retinal pigment epithelium was studied in rabbits during a period of 4 weeks. The lesions were never visible ophthalmoscopically. During the healing period, the epithelium was reformed by a single sheet of hypertrophic retinal pigment epithelial cells. In contrast to continuous-wave photocoagulation, only minimal inflammatory response was found. Retinal pigment epithelial cells showed clear signs of viability, eg, phagocytized outer segments. The local edema in the photoreceptor layer and subretinal space found in the early stage disappeared when the blood-retinal barrier was reestablished. The choriocapillaris remained unaffected. No subsequent damage to the photoreceptors was found. This type of photocoagulation may be useful for retinal pigment epithelium-related diseases, eg, diffuse diabetic macular edema.

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