PURPOSE - Characterization of the response of the Balb/c mouse to an eye-directed overpressure airwave, with the hypothesis that this mouse strain and model is useful for testing potential therapeutics for the treatment of traumatic eye injury.
METHODS - The left eyes of adult Balb/c mice were exposed to an eye-directed overpressure airwave. Intraocular pressure (IOP) was measured and eyes were inspected for gross pathology changes. Optical coherence tomography and histology were used to examine the structural integrity of the retina and optic nerve. Immunohistochemistry, in vivo molecular fluorophores, and a multiplex enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay were utilized to identify changes in cell death, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress.
RESULTS - This model induced a transient increase in IOP, corneal injuries, infrequent large retinal detachments, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) vacuolization, glial reactivity, and retinal cell death. Both the corneal damage and RPE vacuolization persisted with time. Optic nerve degeneration occurred as early as 7 days postinjury and persisted out to 60 days. Retinal cell death, increased levels of reactive oxygen species, and neuroinflammation were detected at 7 days postinjury.
CONCLUSIONS - The injury profile of the Balb/c mouse is consistent with commonly observed pathologies in blast-exposed patients. The damage is throughout the eye and persistent, making this mouse model useful for testing cell-based therapies.