Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic mechanism that relieves cellular stress by removing/recycling damaged organelles and debris through the action of lysosomes. Compromised autophagy has been implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases, including retinal degeneration. Here we examined retinal phenotypes resulting from RPE-specific deletion of the autophagy regulatory gene Atg7 by generating Atg7(flox/flox);VMD2-rtTA-cre+ mice to determine whether autophagy is essential for RPE functions including retinoid recycling. Atg7-deficient RPE displayed abnormal morphology with increased RPE thickness, cellular debris and vacuole formation indicating that autophagy is important in maintaining RPE homeostasis. In contrast, 11-cis-retinal content, ERGs and retinal histology were normal in mice with Atg7-deficient RPE in both fasted and fed states. Because A2E accumulation in the RPE is associated with pathogenesis of both Stargardt disease and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in humans, deletion of Abca4 was introduced into Atg7(flox/flox);VMD2-rtTA-cre+ mice to investigate the role of autophagy during A2E accumulation. Comparable A2E concentrations were detected in the eyes of 6-month-old mice with and without Atg7 from both Abca4(-/-) and Abca4(+/+) backgrounds. To identify other autophagy-related molecules involved in A2E accumulation, we performed gene expression array analysis on A2E-treated human RPE cells and found up-regulation of four autophagy related genes; DRAM1, NPC1, CASP3, and EIF2AK3/PERK. These observations indicate that Atg7-mediated autophagy is dispensable for retinoid recycling and A2E deposition; however, autophagy plays a role in coping with stress caused by A2E accumulation.