The SPOTS System: An Ocular Scoring System Optimized for Use in Modern Preclinical Drug Development and Toxicology

Joshua Seth Eaton, Paul E. Miller, Ellison Bentley, Sara M Thomasy, Christopher J Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose: To present a semiquantitative ocular scoring system comprising elements and criteria that address many of the limitations associated with systems commonly used in preclinical studies, providing enhanced cross-species applicability and predictive value in modern ocular drug and device development. Methods: Revisions to the ocular scoring systems of McDonald-Shadduck and Hackett-McDonald were conducted by board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists at Ocular Services On Demand (OSOD) over the execution of hundreds of in vivo preclinical ocular drug and device development studies and general toxicological investigations. This semiquantitative preclinical ocular toxicology scoring (SPOTS) system was driven by limitations of previously published systems identified by our group's recent review of slit lamp-based scoring systems in clinical ophthalmology, toxicology, and vision science. Results: The SPOTS system provides scoring criteria for the anterior segment, posterior segment, and characterization of intravitreal test articles. Key elements include: standardized slit lamp settings; expansion of criteria to enhance applicability to nonrabbit species; refinement and disambiguation of scoring criteria for corneal opacity, fluorescein staining severity, and aqueous flare; introduction of novel criteria for scoring of aqueous and anterior vitreous cell; and introduction of criteria for findings observed with drugs/devices targeting the posterior segment. A modified Standardization of Uveitis Nomenclature (SUN) system is also introduced to facilitate accurate use of SUN's criteria in laboratory species. Conclusions: The SPOTS systems provide criteria that stand to enhance the applicability of semiquantitative scoring criteria to the full range of laboratory species, in the context of modern approaches to ocular therapeutics and drug delivery and drug and device development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)718-734
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • preclinical
  • scoring
  • semiquantitative
  • slit lamp
  • toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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