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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2018 Jan 1;59(1):349-361. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-21530.

Long Term Temporal Changes in Structure and Function of Rat Visual System After Blast Exposure.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States.
Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States.
Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Utah, John A Moran Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States.



We identify long-term ocular sequelae subsequent to experimental blast exposure.


Male Long-Evans rats were exposed to 230 kPa side-on primary blast overpressure using a compressed air driven shock tube. Visual system function and structure were assessed for 8 weeks after exposure using optokinetic nystagmus and optical coherence tomography. Vitreous protein expression and histology (TUNEL, H&E) were performed at 1 day and 1, 4, and 8 weeks. IOP was recorded bilaterally during blast in a subset of animals.


Blast pressure profiles resembled the Friedlander waveform indicative of an open field blast. Peak IOP in directly-exposed eyes (240 kPa) was similar to peak blast overpressure, but IOP in indirectly-exposed eyes was 30% lower. Contrast sensitivity of blast-exposed animals decreased significantly by 20% 1 day after blast and did not recover by 8 weeks. Significant swelling and structural damage to the corneal epithelial and stromal layers were observed 2 weeks after blast exposure. Swollen corneas increased 254 ± 143 μm from baseline by 6 weeks, and scarring developed by 8 weeks. Histology revealed additional lens pathology 1 week after blast, suggestive of cataract development. Endothelial cell density increased significantly in blast-exposed animals between 1 and 4 weeks. Neurofilament heavy chain significantly increased after blast and returned to near baseline values by 8 weeks. Inflammatory cytokine changes corroborated ocular pathology findings.


These data demonstrate immediate visual dysfunction and biochemical responses, but delayed structural pathology, in response to single primary blast exposure. The delayed pathology time course may provide a window to implement treatment strategies for improved visual outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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