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Kiel JW. The Ocular Circulation. San Rafael (CA): Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences; 2010.

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The Ocular Circulation.

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Chapter 3Blood flow measuring techniques

Although the blood vessels of the iris and inner retina are tantalizingly observable through the clear cornea, blood flow measurement in the eye is extremely difficult. Conspiring against simple approaches are the inaccessible locations of the arterial inputs and venous outputs within the bony orbit, the complex intermixing of the different vascular beds and the need to preserve the normal IOP. What follows is a brief description of some of the more common ocular blood flow measuring techniques.

The normally clear optical path from cornea-to-retina lends itself to optical imaging techniques. The earliest of these was film-based (now digital) fundus photography, which evolved into scanning laser ophthalmoscopy and optical coherence tomography. A digital video-based device, the retinal vessel analyzer (Imedos, Jena, Germany), is an imaging variant specific for measuring retinal vessel diameters. All can provide information about retinal vessel caliber responses to perturbations or drugs; however, a measurement of blood velocity in the same vessel is needed to calculate volumetric blood flow. Such velocity measurements in larger retinal vessels are typically done with a separate, dual-beam laser Doppler velocimeter. (A device, the Canon Laser Blood Flowmeter, combining retinal vessel diameter and blood velocity measurement in one instrument was briefly available commercially, but few were made or sold.)

Fundus imaging also gave rise to fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography to track dye movement through the vessels of the inner retina and choroid, respectively. High frequency angiograms provide information about regional blood velocity or transit time rather than volumetric blood flow. Two other methods that provide velocity information are the laser Doppler speckle technique used for the retinal and optic nerve head microcirculations, and ultrasound color Doppler imaging used for the ophthalmic artery, the central retinal artery and the short posterior ciliary arteries.

Laser Doppler flowmetry provides a measurement of red blood cell flux (i.e., the product of mean velocity and the number of moving cells) in a small volume of laser-illuminated tissue. Both fundus camera and fiber optic-based units are used; fundus camera units are used primarily for the optic nerve head and sub-foveal choroid, and fiber optic units are used primarily for intravitreal probe measurements of the choroid in animals with few retinal vessels or transcleral ciliary body and choroid measurements. Laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF) has the advantage of providing continuous measurements. However, it does not provide volumetric flow measurements and so measurements at different sites or between subjects are difficult to compare; LDF is much better suited for recording site-specific responses to perturbations.

For many years, the primary technique for animal ocular blood flow measurements was the radioactive (now colored) microsphere technique. The technique requires injection of the microspheres (originally 15 micron diameter spheres) into the left ventricle followed by quantification of the number of spheres trapped in the tissue of interest relative to an arterial blood sample taken at a known rate during the injection. The intraventricular injection is invasive and the technique requires death of the animal to harvest the tissue, but it does provide a quantitative measurement of tissue blood flow at the time of injection.

Some of the other less common ocular blood flow measuring techniques include scleral heat clearance, antipyrine autoradiography, pulsatile ocular blood flow (derived from the cardiac synchronous fluctuations in intraocular pressure or the cornea-to-retina distance), magnetic resonance imaging and Doppler optical coherence tomography.

Copyright © 2010 by Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK53330
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