An ultrastructural study of retinal photoreceptor degeneration associated with bronchial carcinoma

T. A. Buchanan, T. A. Gardiner, D. B. Archer

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79 Citations (Scopus)


We studied both eyes of a 66-year-old man with retinal degeneration and oat cell carcinoma of the bronchus. Retinal degeneration was most marked peripheral to the parafovea where photoreceptor cells and their outer segments were absent. Within the parafovea, photoreceptor cells remained but rod outer segments were absent and cone outer segments were fragmented and disorganized. The retinal pigment epithelium contained many immature melanin granules within melanolysosomes, suggesting abnormal melanin synthesis and resorption. We suggest that a pharmacologically active substance resembling a hormone produced by the tumor increased melanin synthesis in the pigment epithelium and that the increased melanin content in these cells compromised their ability to phagocytose and maintain normal turnover of photoreceptor outer segments. We believe these changes led to photoreceptor outer segment loss and subsequent degeneration of the photoreceptor cells.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)277-287
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 1984

Bibliographical note

LR: 20081121; JID: 0370500; ppublish


  • Aged
  • Bronchial Neoplasms/complications
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell/complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Photoreceptor Cells/ultrastructure
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye/ultrastructure
  • Retinal Degeneration/etiology/pathology
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment/ultrastructure

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