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Ehrenhofer, M. C. A.; Deeg, Cornelia A.; Reese, Sven ORCID: 0000-0002-4605-9791; Liebich, Hans-Georg; Stangassinger, Manfred; Kaspers, Bernd (2002): Normal structure and age-related changes of the equine retina. In: Veterinary ophthalmology, Vol. 5, No. 1: pp. 39-47
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Abstract

Investigations of the pathophysiology of ocular diseases require a detailed knowledge of the microanatomy of the eye. The available information is still inadequate for the equine retina despite the importance of eye diseases in equine medicine. Here we provide a comprehensive analysis of the histologic features of the horse eye as a reference for future studies. Thirty normal eyes of 15 healthy horses were examined immediately after slaughter. The retina of the horse differs considerably in the degree and quantity of neurons and glial elements as well as in vascular patterns compared to the retina of other domestic animals. Morphometric analysis revealed that the thickness of the retina varies between 80 µm at the ora serrata and 250 µm medial to the optic disc. Approximately 90% of the equine retina is comparatively thin (< 130 µm). This is a physiologic response to the distance that oxygen can diffuse in avascular retina. Ganglion cells form a single layer in all parts of the retina. The majority of ganglion cells are very large Nissl-positive cells. Small Nissl-negative ganglion cells are less abundant. A high ganglion cell density is found only in the central area. Vascularization is virtually absent from the retina with the exception of a narrow strip around the disc of the optic nerve, as revealed by lectin histochemistry. Light microscopy of the eyes of older horses repeatedly revealed cystoid degenerations in the retina adjacent to the pars plana of the ciliary body, as well as a destruction of the regular layering of the peripheral region of the retina.