Rabbit Model of Corneal Endothelial Injury Established Using the Nd: YAG Laser

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Purpose:To develop a new rabbit model of corneal endothelial injury using a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) laser.Methods:The corneal endothelia of 2 groups of New Zealand white rabbits were treated with an Nd:YAG laser in a uniformly scattered fashion. Rabbits in group A underwent laser burns on the whole corneal endothelium, including the limbus area, whereas rabbits in group B were subjected to laser burns in the central 9-mm diameter zone of the endothelium. Slit-lamp biomicroscopy, optical coherence tomography, applanation tonometry, confocal microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and histological examinations were performed during 4 weeks of follow-up.Results:In both groups, dotted or focal corneal endothelium defects were directly observed. The stroma was intact. Right after laser application, a series of clinical manifestations appeared, including subepithelial and stromal edema, increased central corneal thickness, and corneal opacity. Laser burn had more notable effects in group A than in group B. In both groups, we observed no damage to the intraocular structures, and intraocular pressure was normal after laser treatment.Conclusions:Nd:YAG laser treatment in a 9-mm diameter zone of the endothelium can effectively induce bullous keratopathy in a rabbit, whereas treatment for the entire corneal endothelium maintains bullous keratopathy for a longer period. The procedure is simple and reproducible, and it retains normal intraocular structures. This study provided a promising model for future research into endothelial cell damage and for the development of new therapies.

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