Function and morphology of the retinal pigment epithelium after light-induced damage.Microsc Res Tech 1997; 36(2):77-88MR
The purpose of this study was to determine the threshold energy for light-induced functional damage of the retinal pigment epithelium at various wavelengths. Retinas of 58 pigmented and 21 albino rabbits were exposed to low intensity broadband blue light (400-520 nm), yellow light (510-740 nm), and narrowband blue light (408, 417, 439, 455, 485, 501 nm, respectively; deltalambda = 10-13 nm). The intensity values were 50, 280, and 5 mW x cm (-2), respectively, and the illumination time was 0.5 up to 5 h. The cumulative dose of light energy was calculated from these data (J x cm(-2)). The blood-retinal barrier dysfunction was evaluated in vivo using fluorophotometry to measure the leakage of fluorescein into the vitreous after intravenous injection and in vitro using light and electron microscopy after an in vivo intraarterial injection of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The threshold energy for fluorescein leakage was 50 J x cm (-2) for blue light and 1,600 J x cm(-2) for yellow light. After broadband blue light exposure, the HRP reaction product was seen in the cytoplasm of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells and in the subretinal space but only if fluorescein leakage had been observed. Threshold energy and fluorescein leakage as a function of light energy were similar for albino and pigmented rabbits (P > 0.5). Only after yellow light exposure in excess of 3,700 J x cm(-2) was fluorescein leakage found. In that case complete disruption of the RPE was seen, but no HRP was observed in the RPE cytoplasm. Of the narrow-band blue light exposures, only that at lambda = 418 nm caused a significant increase in fluorescein leakage; the threshold energy was 18 J x cm(- 2). Blue light was found to be at least 30 times more efficient than yellow light in causing dysfunction of the blood-retinal barrier. The most efficient wavelength was 418 nm, corresponding with the absorption spectrum of cytochrome c oxidase. Melanin seemed to play no role. The presence or absence of melanin in the RPE appeared to have no influence on the threshold energy.