Background: The purpose was to study whether any differences exist in the optic nerve head (ONH) and peripapillary retinal blood flow between the two eyes of patients with unilateral exfoliation glaucoma or ocular hypertension (OHT) with exfoliation syndrome.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included 50 patients. All had exfoliation syndrome with glaucoma or OHT in one eye, and these eyes comprised the study group. The fellow eyes, all normotensive, comprised the control group. Blood flow was measured with scanning laser Doppler flowmetry in the lamina cribrosa region, in the rim area, and on the peripapillary retina. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to identify any associations between different factors and differences in flow.
Results: Flow in the rim area was significantly higher in the study eyes than in the control eyes, with a mean difference of 172 arbitrary units (P = 0.001). The difference of 40 units in the laminar area was of borderline significance (P = 0.065) and no significant difference was found in the peripapillary retina (P = 0.530). In the study eyes, blood flow of the ONH lamina and rim area decreased with increasing glaucomatous damage, and treatment with topical timolol was associated with reduced blood flow in the lamina cribrosa and rim area. Perfusion pressure was associated only with flow in the peripapillary area (P = 0.021).
Conclusions: Advanced glaucomatous damage was associated with reduced flow both in the lamina cribrosa and the rim area but not in the peripapillary retina. Treatment with topical timolol was associated with decreased flow in the ONH.