Purpose: To determine the relationship between the retinal blood vessel topography and the retinal nerve fiber bundle (RNFB) trajectories in the human retina.
Methods: A previously collected dataset comprising 28 fundus photographs with traced RNFB trajectories was used. For all traced trajectories, the departure from our previously published RNFB trajectory model was calculated. Subsequently, we calculated, per subject, a "mean departure" for the superior-temporal and inferior-temporal region. We measured angles between a line connecting the optic nerve head (ONH) center and the fovea and lines connecting the ONH center and the crossings of the superior and inferior temporal arteries (arterial angles) and veins (venous angles) with circles around the ONH; circle radii were 25%, 50%, and 100% of the ONH center-to-fovea distance. We also defined two angles based on the location of the first arteriovenous crossing. Multiple linear regression analysis was performed with mean departure as dependent variable and refraction, ONH inclination, and vessel angles as independent variables.
Results: In the superior-temporal region, refraction (P = 0.017), ONH inclination (P = 0.021), and the arterial angle corresponding to the middle circle (P < 0.001) were significant determinants of mean departure. Explained variance was 0.54. In the inferior-temporal region, the arterial angle corresponding to the largest circle (P = 0.002) was significant. Explained variance was 0.32.
Conclusions: The retinal blood vessel topography explains a significant part of the RNFB trajectory variability but only if (1) the vessel topography is assessed at an appropriate distance from the ONH and (2) the superior and inferior hemifield are addressed independently.