It has been postulated that high energy heavy ions cause a unique form of damage in living tissue, which results from the high linear energy transfer of accelerated single particles. We have searched for these single-particle effects, so-called "microlesions," in composite electron micrographs of retinas of rats which had been irradiated with a dose of 1 Gy of 570 MeV/amu argon ions. The calculated rate of energy deposition of the radiation in the retina was about 100 keV/μm and the fluence was four particles per <tex-math>$100\ \mu {\rm m}^{2}$</tex-math>. Different areas of the irradiated retinas which combined would have been expected to be traversed by approximately 2400 particles were examined. We were unable to detect ultrastructural changes in the irradiated retinas distinct from those of controls. The spatial cellular densities of pigment epithelial and photoreceptor cells remained within the normal range when examined at 24 h and at 6 months after irradiation. These findings suggest that the retina is relatively resistant to heavy-ion irradiation and that under the experimental conditions the passage of high energy argon ions does not cause retinal microlesions that can be detected by ultrastructural analysis.

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