Recent research shows that, not only can a large percentage of rockfishes survive once released to depth, but fish can recover from eye injuries (pop-eye) and regain their ability to see. This research showed the following:
1. When fish are recompressed, their eyes move back into normal position
2. The outside layer of the eye (cornea) is known to heal quickly in the marine environment
3. Rockfish showed little to no impairment to their vision after being recompressed
4. Rockfish forced down to depth likely have a high chance of being able to find food and avoid predators
Eye exams on rockfish after catch-and-release shows they can still use their vision:
Fish naturally track moving objects with their eyes in order to prevent images from appearing blurred (humans naturally track moving object too). If a fish can distinguish the contrast between each black bar, then it will track the moving bars with the eyes. If the bars are too small for the fish to distinguish detail, then their eyes will not move at all. Rockfish with popeye were treated by recompression in chambers on land, removed from chambers and assessed for eye damage. These rockfish were able to track very narrow bars (less than 0.33 cm wide) indicating their ability to see this detail and resolve images.