Purpose: The objective of this study is to present the reliability and validity of scanning laser Doppler flowmetry (SLDF) performing a high-definition topography of perfused vessels of the retina and the optic nerve head with simultaneous evaluation of blood flow.
Methods: The examination of blood flow by SLDF is based on the optical Doppler effect. The data acquisition and evaluation system is a modified laser scanning device; the wavelength of the laser source is 670 mm, with a power of 100 microW (Heidelberg Engineering, HRF). The reliability of SLDF was estimated by performing five separate measurements in 10 eyes on 5 days. The validity of the method was tested by two experiments. First, in an experimental set-up, the capability of SLDF to measure the velocity of a moving plane in absolute units was estimated. Second, comparative measurements were performed of retinal blood flow in normal eyes and in 33 glaucomatous eyes with SLDF and a commercially available single-point laser Doppler flowmeter (Oculix).
Results: We found SLDF to produce a high reliability. The reliability coefficients r1 of flow, volume, and velocity were 0.82, 0.81, and 0.83, respectively. Comparative measurements of the retinal blood flow by SLDF and a single-point laser Doppler flowmeter of corresponding retinal points showed a linear and significant relationship between flow (r = 0.83, p < 0.0001), volume (r = 0.51, p < 0.0001), and velocity (r = 0.59, p < 0.0001). In the experimental set-up, SLDF was able to quantitatively measure velocity in absolute units.
Conclusions: SLDF enables the visualization of perfused vessels of the juxtapapillary retina and the optic nerve head in high resolution by two-dimensional mapping of the optical Doppler shift and a reproducible evaluation of capillary blood flow.