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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Feb 11;52(2):840-5. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-5985. Print 2011 Feb.

Pilot study of optical coherence tomography measurement of retinal blood flow in retinal and optic nerve diseases.

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Doheny Eye Institute and Department of Ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA.



To investigate blood flow changes in retinal and optic nerve diseases with Doppler Fourier domain optical coherence tomography (OCT).


Sixty-two participants were divided into five groups: normal, glaucoma, nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), treated proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), and branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO). Doppler OCT was used to scan concentric circles of 3.4- and 3.75-mm diameters around the optic nerve head. Flow in retinal veins was calculated from the OCT velocity profiles. Arterial and venous diameters were measured from OCT Doppler and reflectance images.


Total retinal blood flow in normal subjects averaged 47.6 μL/min. The coefficient of variation of repeated measurements was 11% in normal eyes and 14% in diseased eyes. Eyes with glaucoma, NAION, treated PDR, and BRVO had significantly decreased retinal blood flow compared with normal eyes (P < 0.001). In glaucoma patients, the decrease in blood flow was highly correlated with the severity of visual field loss (P = 0.003). In NAION and BRVO patients, the hemisphere with more severe disease also had lower blood flow.


Doppler OCT retinal blood flow measurements showed good repeatability and excellent correlation with visual field and clinical presentations. This approach could enhance our understanding of retinal and optic nerve diseases and facilitate the development of new therapies.

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