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M E De Stefano, E Mugnaini; Fine structure of the choroidal coat of the avian eye. Lymphatic vessels.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1997;38(6):1241-1260.
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PURPOSE: To clarify the fine structure of the avian choroid and thus help explain the mechanisms for normal and abnormal eye function and growth. METHODS: Eyes from normal chickens and from experimental chickens subjected to unilateral paracentesis were fixed either by perfusion or in situ, with or without post-fixation by microwave irradiation, and then processed for light and electron microscopic analysis. RESULTS: The avian choroid contains thin-walled lacunae, whose fine structure is identical to that of lymphatic vessels. The lacunae are much smaller toward the anterior chamber and the Schlemm's canal than posteriorly in the eye bulb. Large lacunae are situated primarily in the suprachoroidea, and their blind-ended capillary branches enter the choriocapillaris and the walls of large veins. The walls of the large veins contain villous structures that protrude into their lumina and are penetrated by thin lacunar branches and by side lines of the venous lumen. In normal chickens, the lacunae usually are devoid of blood cells. After paracentesis of the anterior eye chamber, the lacunae become filled with erythrocytes on the side that was operated on, but not on the contralateral side. CONCLUSIONS: The authors propose that the lacunae of the avian choroid represent a system of posterior short lymphatic vessels, which drain intraocular fluids directly into the eye's venous system, and that the villous structures are sites of communication between lacunae and veins. The demonstration of a choroidal lymphatic system opens new insights into the processes of fluid removal, control of intraocular pressure, and regulation of choroidal thickness in the avian eye under normal and experimental conditions.
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