Radiation retinopathy: electron microscopy of retina and optic nerve

Histol Histopathol. 1992 Jan;7(1):101-10.


A 4 1/2 year old female was treated for embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma of the left orbit in 1975 with radiation (59.5 Gy in 5 weeks), followed by chemotherapy. An electroretinogram (ERG) in March, 1988 revealed cone responses 3% of normal and no rod responses in the left eye, and normal responses in the right eye. The eye was enucleated in April 1988. In the fovea no choroidocapillaris was seen at the intact Bruch's membrane, and the pigment epithelium was preserved only in small patches. No photoreceptor cells were seen in the areas devoid of pigment epithelial cells. The parafoveal and peripheral (30 degrees eccentricity) retina was better preserved. The thickness of the layer of rods and cones and of Henle's fiber layer was reduced. Very few outer segments were present. Macrophages had invaded the retinal tissue in moderate numbers. The retinal vessels were ensheathed by several layers of collagen fibrils. The spatial densities of pigment epithelial, cone, rod, and bipolar cells had been reduced. The optic nerve contained a total number of 1,022,000 nerve fibers.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroretinography
  • Eye Enucleation
  • Eye Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macrophages
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Optic Nerve / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Injuries* / etiology
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Retina / radiation effects*
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma / radiotherapy*