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Comparative Study
, 40 (13), 3084-90

Optic Nerve and Peripapillary Choroidal Microvasculature of the Rat Eye

  • PMID: 10586928
Comparative Study

Optic Nerve and Peripapillary Choroidal Microvasculature of the Rat Eye

K Sugiyama et al. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.


Purpose: To investigate the three-dimensional microvascular anatomy of the optic nerve and peripapillary choroid in the rat eye.

Methods: Gross vascular anatomy of the posterior eye segment of Wistar rats was studied in serial microsections with a light microscope. The optic nerve and peripapillary choroidal vessels were sequentially microdissected, using methylmethacrylate corrosion microvascular castings, and were examined with a scanning electron microscope to determine the three-dimensional relationships of the vessels.

Results: The posterior ciliary artery traveled along the inferior side of the optic nerve sheath, directly entered the optic nerve head, and divided into three branches: the central retinal artery and medial and lateral long posterior ciliary arteries, which provided several short branches to the choroid. The optic nerve head vasculature was consistently nourished by a recurrent arteriole from the central retinal artery and an arteriole from the choroidal artery at the peripapillary choroid. The central retinal vein flowed into a venous anastomosis along the optic disc border of the peripapillary choroid. Capillaries within the optic nerve drained into the central retinal vein, the marginal venous anastomosis of the peripapillary choroid, and the pial veins, all of which flowed into the posterior ciliary veins along the optic nerve sheath.

Conclusions: The findings illustrate vascular anatomic differences in optic nerve and peripapillary choroidal microcirculation between rat and human. In rats, the peripapillary choroid plays a significant role in both blood supply and venous drainage of the optic nerve head. The central retinal artery also contributes to the optic nerve head circulation.

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