Purpose: To evaluate the interobserver variability and the reproducibility of retinal and optic nerve head capillary blood flow measurements performed with a new noninvasive equipment, the scanning laser Doppler flowmeter (Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany).
Methods: Blood flow measurements were performed during three independent sessions in six patients with glaucoma and five normal subjects using the scanning laser Doppler flowmeter (SLDF), which allows the visualization of perfused capillaries and vessels of the retina and optic nerve head and enables the quantification of capillary blood volume, flow, and velocity in any selected area of the perfusion map. To evaluate the interobserver variability in selecting the areas in the perfusion map to be measured, three observers tried to locate the same areas in the perfusion map of images obtained during the first session. To evaluate the reproducibility of the measurements, the observers measured correspondent areas in the peripapillary retina and in the optic nerve head of images from the three sessions. Areas of different sizes (10 x 10 pixels and 4 x 4 pixels) were measured.
Results: The agreement between readings performed by the three observers was very good, with the reliability coefficient for the various parameters varying from 0.90 to 0.98. The reproducibility of retinal and lamina cribrosa measurements with the 10 x 10 pixel square target was good (reliability coefficient for the different parameters ranging from 0.70 to 0.85) and much better than the reproducibility of the 4 x 4 pixel target. The measurements performed in the neuroretinal rim area also had poor reproducibility. The measurements from the patients with glaucoma tended to be more reproducible than those from normal subjects.
Conclusions: The SLDF allows reproducible blood perfusion measurements of retinal and lamina cribrosa areas when a target square of 10 x 10 pixels is used.