Over 100 million individuals are affected by irreversible visual impairments and blindness
worldwide, while ocular diseases remain a challenging problem despite significant advances in
modern ophthalmology. Development of novel drugs and drug delivery mechanisms, as well as
advanced ophthalmological techniques requires experimental models including animals, capable of
developing ocular diseases with similar etiology and pathology, suitable for future trials of new therapeutic approaches.
Although experimental ophthalmology and visual research are traditionally performed on rodent models, these animals are
often unsuitable for pre-clinical drug efficacy and safety studies, as well as for testing novel drug delivery approaches, e.g.
controlled release of pharmaceuticals using intra-ocular implants. Therefore, rabbit models of ocular diseases are
particularly useful in this context, since rabbits can be easily handled, while sharing more common anatomical and
biochemical features with humans compared to rodents, including longer life span and larger eye size. This review
provides a brief description of clinical, morphological and mechanistic aspects of the most common ocular diseases (dry
eye syndrome, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, light-induced retinopathies, cataract and uveitis) and
summarizes the diversity of current strategies for their experimental modeling in rabbits. Several applications of some of
these models in ocular pharmacology and eye care strategies are also discussed.
Keywords: Ocular diseases, experimental animal models, rabbit, ocular pharmacology, dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, agerelated
macular degeneration, cataract, uveitis.
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