Brooks Air Force Base

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Brooks Air Force Base, TX

Protocol - 2003-15 - The use of the multifocal electroretinogram (MERG) for the functional assessment of retinal laser lesion response to xylazine and indomethacin therapy in the nonhuman primate



The use of the multifocal electroretinogram (MERG) for the functional assessment of retinal laser lesion response to xylazine and indomethacin therapy in the nonhuman primate


Research Category:

M8: Laser Research


FY: 2003 Funding (in dollars):



Responsible Organization:


Primary Contact:

Public Affairs Office


Brooks City-Base






Performing Organization:

See Responsible Organization Information












Battlefield and accidental laser retinal injury can result in permanent vision loss. Currently there are no universally accepted functional diagnostics and treatment for laser eye injury. The objective of this research is to determine if the multifocal ERG (MERG) is sensitive enough to provide a functional assessment of retinal laser lesions that correlates to anatomical diagnostics currently in use. In addition, this research will expand into the use of therapies with retinal specific neuroprotective qualities in order to provide a preliminary path for new treatment regimes beyond the use of anti inflammatory therapies.



With the numerous risks to vision that military personnel are exposed to on the modern battlefield, it is imperative that new techniques for the long-term functional assessment of the retina along with new therapies for laser eye injury are developed. This protocol is expanding on-going research to include the functional assessment of laser retinal injury through the use of the MERG with the intent of correlating the function to currently used morphological techniques, such as fluorescein angiography, scanning laser opthalmoscopy, and optical coherence tomography. Experiment 1: MERG Standardization in Normal Subjects. This first experiment will concentrate on learning the technique of the MERG, to determine if individual variation or time of day affects the recordings. The recordings are non invasive but the contact lens placed on the cornea may cause discomfort so the animals will be sedated/anesthetized for all of the recordings and topical anesthetic administered to the cornea. Experiment 2: Laser Dose Response Function for Electrophysiology: In order to determine the severity of the lesion that is detectable by MERG, a series of laser lesions will be placed in the macula of one eye of each monkey from Experiment 1. Only one eye will be used to spare the vision of the monkey and reduce potential stress caused by a rapid loss of vision in both eyes. Experiment 3: Medical Therapies for Retinal Laser Lesions After determining the laser dose required to produce a visible lesion that is detectable by MERG, follow on medical therapies for laser injury will be studied. In order to provide potential therapy regimes for use in the military medical arena, only FDA approved drugs will be utilized. Xylazine (alpha 2 adrenergic agonist), indomethacin (NSAID) and a combination of xylazine/indomethacin will be utilized as the laser treatment regime.

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Rats, mice, birds, amphibians and other animals have been excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act. Therefore research facility reports do not include these animals. As a result of this situation, a blank report, or one with few animals listed, does not mean that a facility has not performed experiments on non-reportable animals. A blank form does mean that the facility in question has not used covered animals (primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs, sheep, goats, etc.). Rats and mice alone are believed to comprise over 90% of the animals used in experimentation. Therefore the majority of animals used at research facilities are not even counted.

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