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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1989 Jul;30(7):1599-603.

Parapapillary retinal vessel diameter in normal and glaucoma eyes. I. Morphometric data.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University Erlangen-N├╝rnberg, West Germany.


The retinal blood vessels serve for nutrition of the retinal ganglion cells and their axons. This study was undertaken to evaluate the vessel diameter in normal and glaucoma eyes. The calibers of the superior temporal and inferior temporal retinal artery and vein were measured at the optic disc border and at a distance of 2 mm from the optic disc center; 473 eyes of 281 patients suffering from chronic primary open-angle glaucoma and 275 eyes of 173 normal subjects were examined. Fifteen-degree, color stereo optic disc photographs were used. In the normal eyes the inferior temporal vessels were significantly larger than the superior temporal vessels. This corresponds with: (1) the configuration of the normal neuroretinal rim, which is significantly broader in the inferior disc region than in the superior disc area; (2) the visibility of the retinal nerve fibers, which are better detectable in the inferior temporal area than in the superior temporal one; and (3) the foveola location 0.53 +/- 0.34 mm inferior to the optic disc center. The retinal vessel diameter was independent of the patients' age and optic disc and parapapillary chorioretinal atrophy size. In the glaucoma group the vessel caliber was significantly smaller than in the normal eyes. The differences were more marked for the arteries and the inferior temporal vessels, respectively. The vessel diameters decreased significantly with increasing glaucoma stage independently of the patients' age. The parapapillary retinal vessel diameter may reflect the need of vascular supply in the corresponding superficial retinal area. It may be correlated with the local ganglion cell density and retinal nerve fiber layer thickness.

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