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Eye (Lond). 2000 Jun;14 ( Pt 3B):445-9.

Anterior optic nerve microvascular changes in human glaucomatous optic neuropathy.

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Devers Eye Institute, Legacy Health System, Portland, Oregon, USA.


The microvascular changes in the anterior optic nerve in human glaucomatous eyes were examined by selective methylmethacrylate microvascular corrosion castings following cannulation of the central retinal artery and posterior ciliary arteries in 11 normal eyes and 9 glaucomatous eyes. The resulting castings were examined with scanning electron microscopy. Microvascular changes were found in the anterior optic nerves of all the glaucomatous eyes with visual function loss. These findings include areas of capillary filling defects within the anterior optic nerve and a decreased numbers of feeding arteriolar vessels to the anterior optic nerve. In the prelaminar and laminar regions, the typical capillary patterns are lost and laminar striations are not present. Juxtapapillary choroidal and retinal avascular areas were also identified in two of the glaucomatous eyes. Selective microvascular corrosion casting is an excellent method to examine the three-dimensional microvasculature of the anterior optic nerve. Microvascular changes in the anterior optic nerve may play a role in the development of glaucomatous optic neuropathy.

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