Assessment of perfused foveal microvascular density and identification of nonperfused capillaries in healthy and vasculopathic eyes

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Nov 20;55(12):8056-66. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-15136.


Purpose: To analyze the foveal microvasculature of young healthy eyes and older vasculopathic eyes, imaged using in vivo adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope fluorescein angiography (AOSLO FA).

Methods: AOSLO FA imaging of the superficial retinal microvasculature within an 800-μm radius from the foveal center was performed using simultaneous confocal infrared (IR) reflectance (790 nm) and fluorescence (488 nm) channels. Corresponding IR structural and FA perfusion maps were compared with each other to identify nonperfused capillaries adjacent to the foveal avascular zone. Microvascular densities were calculated from skeletonized FA perfusion maps.

Results: Sixteen healthy adults (26 eyes; mean age 25 years, range, 21-29) and six patients with a retinal vasculopathy (six eyes; mean age 55 years, range, 44-70) were imaged. At least one nonperfused capillary was observed in five of the 16 healthy nonfellow eyes and in four of the six vasculopathic eyes. Compared with healthy eyes, capillary nonperfusion in the vasculopathic eyes was more extensive. Microvascular density of the 16 healthy nonfellow eyes was 42.0 ± 4.2 mm(-1) (range, 33-50 mm(-1)). All six vasculopathic eyes had decreased microvascular densities.

Conclusions: AOSLO FA provides an in vivo method for estimating foveal microvascular density and reveals occult nonperfused retinal capillaries. Nonperfused capillaries in healthy young adults may represent a normal variation and/or an early sign of pathology. Although limited, the normative data presented here is a step toward developing clinically useful microvascular parameters for ocular and/or systemic diseases.

Keywords: adaptive optics; fluorescein angiography; image analysis; retinal microvasculature; scanning light ophthalmoscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Capillaries* / anatomy & histology
  • Capillaries* / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography / methods
  • Fovea Centralis* / anatomy & histology
  • Fovea Centralis* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microvessels* / anatomy & histology
  • Microvessels* / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmoscopy / methods
  • Perfusion Imaging / methods*
  • Retinal Diseases / pathology*
  • Retinal Vessels* / anatomy & histology
  • Retinal Vessels* / pathology
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Young Adult