Purpose: To correlate damage to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) with decreased visual function after the systemic administration of sodium iodate (NaIO(3)).
Methods: Damage was produced in mice by injection of 15, 25, or 35 mg/kg NaIO(3). Visual function was assessed with the cued water maze (WM) behavioral test and the optokinetic reflex (OKR) measurement at different times after injection. Autofluorescence in whole eye flatmounts was quantified, and hematoxylin and eosin staining of paraffin sections was performed to assess changes in the outer retina.
Results: After 15 mg/kg NaIO(3), cued WM test results were normal, whereas OKR measurements were significantly decreased at all times. Focal RPE loss began on day 21, but no significant damage to the outer nuclear layer was observed. After 25 mg/kg NaIO(3), the cued WM test was transitionally reduced and the OKR measurement again decreased at all times. Large areas of RPE loss occurred on day 14 with a reduced outer nuclear layer on the same day. With 35 mg/kg NaIO(3), the cued WM test was reduced beginning on day 14 with complete obliteration of the OKR beginning on day 3, large areas of RPE loss on the same day, and a reduced outer nuclear layer on day 7.
Conclusions: Stable, patchy RPE loss was observed with a low concentration of NaIO(3). The OKR measurement showed changes in visual function earlier than the cued WM test and before histologic findings were observed.