A new method and device to induce transient retinal ischemia in the rat

Bing Li, Iok Hou Pang, George Barnes, Marsha McLaughlin, William Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose. To describe and characterize a novel, non-invasive method to induce retinal ischemia in the rat. Methods. Retinal ischemia was produced by applying a compression force with a suture thread anchored about 2 mm behind the limbus of the eye in order to increase intraocular pressure and reduce ocular blood flow. Both ends of the suture thread were connected to weights via a pulley system. The effect of various weights (20, 25, or 35 g) on retinal damage was tested in animals of different body weights (350 and 574 g). Scotopic ERG measurements and histological sections of retinal tissue were used to evaluate possible functional and morphological changes to the retina as a consequence of ischemia followed by reperfusion. Results. Retinal ischemia was achieved by this method with good reproducibility. The degree of retinal damage, as quantified by ERG measurement, correlated with the amount of weight connected to the suture thread. Seven days after 60 minutes of retinal ischemia, the amplitudes of A- and B-waves of eyes compressed with a 20 g weight were 84 ± 11% and 86 ± 16% (mean ± SEM, n = 4, amplitudes before ischemia defined 100%), respectively. The A- and B-wave amplitudes of eyes compressed with 25 g were 69 ± 7% and 76 ± 6% (n = 11), respectively. A 35 g treatment produced A- and B-wave amplitudes of 55 ± 3.9% and 52 ± 4% (n = 35), respectively. There was no significant difference in the level of ischemic damage in the two groups of animals with different body weights evaluated in this study. At two weeks after 60-minute retinal ischemia, there was a significant decrease (by 31.1%) in the cell density in the retinal ganglion cell layer. Conclusions. The pulley method is an easy, non-invasive, and highly reproducible technique for inducing retinal ischemia in rats. This procedure may provide a useful animal model of ischemic retinopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-464
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Eye Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


  • ERG
  • Ocular hypertension
  • Pulley method
  • Retinal ischemia


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