This study states that For many retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy (DR), the exact pathogenesis is still unclear. Moreover, the currently available therapeutic options are often unsatisfactory. Research designed to remedy this situation heavily relies on experimental animals. However, animal models often do not faithfully reproduce human disease and, currently, there is strong pressure from society to reduce animal research. Overall, this creates a need for improved disease models to understand pathologies and develop treatment options that, at the same time, require fewer or no experimental animals.

Here, we review recent advances in the field of in vitro and ex vivo models for AMD, glaucoma, and DR. We highlight the difficulties associated with studies on complex diseases, in which both the initial trigger and the ensuing pathomechanisms are unclear, and then delineate which model systems are optimal for disease modelling. To this end, we present a variety of model systems, ranging from primary cell cultures, over organotypic cultures and whole eye cultures, to animal models. Specific advantages and disadvantages of such models are discussed, with a special focus on their relevance to putative in vivo disease mechanisms.

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