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December 1992

Response of the Retinal Pigment Epithelium to Selective Photocoagulation

Author Affiliations

From the Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (Drs Roider, Flotte, and Birngruber and Mr Michaud), and the Medical Laser Center of Lübeck (Germany), Medical University of Lübeck (Dr Birngruber). Dr Roider is now with the Department of Ophthalmology, Medical University of Lübeck. Dr Birngruber has a patent pending on some of the procedures described in this article. This patent may constitute a potential financial interest in the subject matter. The other authors have no proprietary interest in the subject matter of this article

Arch Ophthalmol. 1992;110(12):1786-1792. doi:10.1001/archopht.1992.01080240126045

• 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.