Hyperglycemia affects flicker-induced vasodilation in the retina of healthy subjects

Vision Res. 2003 Jun;43(13):1495-500. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(03)00170-6.


Flickering light stimulation of retinal photoreceptors induces retinal vessel dilation in humans. In the present study the effect of high blood glucose levels on this neuro-vascular mechanism was investigated in 12 healthy young male subjects. Blood glucose levels were consecutively increased during 30 min to 100, 200 and 300 mg/dl and kept at the respective level for the following 30 min using hyperglycemic insulin clamps. Eight Hertz flickering light was applied to the fundus at the end of each glucose plateau during continuous retinal vessel diameter measurements with the Zeiss retinal vessel analyser (RVA). During normoglycemia (100 mg/dl) flickering light induced a significant vasodilation of retinal arteries (+2.8+/-0.4%, p<0.0001) and veins (+2.6+/-0.4%, p<0.0001). At 300 mg/dl blood glucose the flicker response in retinal veins was significantly decreased by 55% (p=0.015 versus 100 mg/dl). The modified RVA employed in the present study provides high sensitivity and is capable of studying flicker-induced retinal vasodilation. Using this technique the present study confirms that flickering light stimulation of the human retina induces vasodilation in retinal vessels in healthy subjects. In addition, our data indicate that the retinal vessel response to flickering light stimulation is significantly reduced during hyperglycemia in humans. The relevance of this finding for diabetes-related eye disease remains to be shown.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Retinal Vessels / physiopathology*
  • Somatostatin
  • Vasodilation


  • Somatostatin