The movement of water to and from the vitreous across the retina and pigment epithelium is important in relation to an understanding of such conditions as retinal detachment and its surgical cure, central serous retinopathy, and retinal oedema. Experiments were carried out to determine the main routes for removal of water injected into the vitreous and to see if the removal could be explained on the basis of diffusion or whether bulk flow was also implicated. 25 microCi of 3H2O in 25 microliter were injected into a central position in the vitreous humour of living rabbits under general anaesthesia. For 9 animals blood was collected from one of the 4 vortex veins draining the choroid and the radioactivity in the samples measured. For another 6 rabbits similarly injected the radioactivity in samples of aqueous humour was determined. The percentage of injectate recovered from the vortex vein blood ranged between 13% and 38%, mean 25 +/- 3%. The percentage of injectate recovered from the aqueous humour ranged between 1.2% and 5.2%, mean 2.8 +/- 0.6%. Analysis of the time course of isotope activity in the samples revealed a mean transit time from the mid vitreous to the choroid of 32 +/- 2 minutes, and from the mid vitreous to the anterior chamber of 84 +/- 3 minutes. By means of a computer model it was calculated that diffusion alone could effect this transfer; if active transport were involved in the transport of 3H2O to the choroid, this was not a limiting factor under the conditions of the experiment.
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