Radiation retinopathy--clinical, histopathological, ultrastructural and experimental correlations

D. B. Archer, W. M. Amoaku, T. A. Gardiner

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Clinical, pathological and experimental studies of radiation retinopathy confirm that the primary vascular event is endothelial cell loss and capillary closure. Pericytes are less susceptible, but typically atrophy as the capillaries become non-functional. The immediate effects of radiation reflect interphase and early mitotic death of injured endothelial cells, whereas later changes may be attributed to delayed mitotic death of compromised endothelial cells as they attempt division in the ordinary course of repair and replacement. Capillary occlusion leads to the formation of dilated capillary collaterals which may remain serviceable and competent for years. Microaneurysms develop in acellular and poorly supported capillaries, predominantly on the arterial side of the circulation and adjacent to regions of poorly perfused retina. Alterations in haemodynamics produce large telangiectatic-like channels which, typically develop a thick collagenous adventitia and may become fenestrated. Limited capillary regeneration occurs, usually evident as recanalisation of arterioles or venules by new capillaries. Vitreo-retinal neovascularisation may occur where retinal ischaemia is widespread. Radiation produces an exaggerated vasculopathy in patients with diabetes mellitus, and five month streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats develop a severe ischaemic retinopathy with vitreoretinal neovascularisation when exposed to 1500 cGy of radiation. Later photocoagulation is useful in containing or reversing microvascular incompetence and vasoproliferation in some patients with advanced radiation retinopathy.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)239-251
Number of pages13
Volume5 ( Pt 2)
Issue numberPt 2
Publication statusPublished - 1991

Bibliographical note

LR: 20091103; JID: 8703986; ppublish


  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental/pathology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy/pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiotherapy/adverse effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Retinal Diseases/etiology/pathology
  • Retinal Vessels/radiation effects/ultrastructure

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