Documenta Ophthalmologica

, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 37–54 | Cite as

The effect of oxygen and light on the structure and function of the neonatal rat retina

  • A. L. Dorfman
  • S. Joly
  • P. Hardy
  • S. Chemtob
  • P. LachapelleEmail author
Review Paper


The neonatal rat is born with its eyes closed and an immature visual system, that some say is equivalent to that of a human fetus at 26 weeks of gestation. From birth, the visual system of the newborn rat will gradually mature, the first manifestation of that being the opening of the eye which usually take place at postnatal day 14. Complete maturation of the retina and visual pathways is normally reached at the end of the first month of life. The neonatal rat model thus represents a unique paradigm to study the normal and abnormal maturation of the primary visual pathways that normally occurs in utero in human subjects. Our laboratory has, over the past decade, developed two animal models of postnatally induced retinopathy, namely the Oxygen-Induced Retinopathy (OIR) that share several common features with the human Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and the Light-Induced Retinopathy that is viewed by some as a valid model of some forms of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). The following pages review what is known of the pathophysiological processes taking place and suggest possible therapeutic avenues that could be explored in order to halt the degenerative process.


Retinopathy Oxygen Light Neonatal rat Electroretinogram Histology 



This study was supported by a research grant (MOP-13383) from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), from the FRSQ-Réseau Vision as well as from the McGill University-Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute. A.L. Dorfman and S. Joly equally contributed to this manuscript and should therefore be considered as equal first authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. L. Dorfman
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Joly
    • 2
  • P. Hardy
    • 3
  • S. Chemtob
    • 1
    • 3
  • P. Lachapelle
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Departments of Pharmacology and TherapeuticsMcGill University-Montreal Children’s Hospital Research InstituteMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Departments of Ophthalmology (D-164)/Neurology-NeurosurgeryMcGill University-Montreal Children’s Hospital Research InstituteMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics, Ophthalmology and Pharmacology, Research Center-Hôpital Ste. JustineUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada

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