Purpose: To evaluate early changes in the visual response properties of Y cells in the detached feline retina.
Methods: The retinas of young adult cats were detached by injection, with a glass micropipette, of a solution of 0.004% sodium hyaluronate in a balanced salt solution between the neural retina and the retinal pigment epithelium. At 1, 3, and 7 days after detachment, the eyes were removed. The eyecup was prepared as a flat mount in a recording chamber and superfused with medium. Extracellular single-unit responses from Y cells in the retinas were recorded.
Results: One, 3, and 7 days after retinal detachment surgery, Y cells showed clear signs of functional deterioration. At each time point, more ON center cells than OFF cells were encountered. Y cells in the detached retinas showed a statistically significant elevation in the average threshold irradiance after 1-, 3-, and 7-day detachment, respectively. The average contrast threshold recorded from cells in the normal retina was 3.6%, but it increased to 14.5%, 21.8%, and 47.5% after 1-, 3-, and 7-day detachment, respectively. Furthermore, at each time point, the capability of Y cells to process contrast information decreased significantly more because of detachment than because of luminance task performance.
Conclusions: Retinal detachment induced rapid functional remodeling that resulted in degenerated Y-cell function, including an elevated luminance threshold and a deteriorated contrast threshold. Detachment had a greater impact on the latter. These physiological changes after retinal detachment could be used as objective indicators of early deterioration of visual function in future studies of retinal remodeling.