Perfusion of the juxtapapillary retina and optic nerve head in acute ocular hypertension

Ger J Ophthalmol. 1996 Nov;5(6):315-21.


Chronically elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is often associated with glaucomatous optic nerve atrophy. Impaired blood flow may play a role in the pathogenesis of this disease. We present data concerning juxtapapillary retinal and optic nerve-head blood flow during acute increases in IOP. With the combination of a laser Doppler flowmeter and a scanning-laser system (Scanning Laser Doppler Flowmeter, SLDF; Heidelberg Engineering) the perfusion of the retina and the optic nerve head was quantified and visualized. Juxtapapillary retinal and optic nerve-head blood flow was measured simultaneously by SLDF during variations in IOP induced by a suction cup in nine healthy volunteers. The ocular pressure was increased for 2 min to IOP +15 mmHg, then to IOP +30 mmHg, and finally, to IOP +45 mmHg. Ocular perfusion pressure (PP) was calculated as the mean arterial blood pressure minus the IOP. The declines in juxtapapillary retinal flow as expressed in present per 10-mmHg IOP elevation ranged from 3.6% to 14.1% (median 7.4%). Over all measurements we found a significant linear relationship between juxtapapillary retinal blood flow and PP (r = 0.55, P < 0.0001). The observed decrease in optic nerve-head blood flow with increasing IOP was significantly greater as compared with the retinal blood flow decrease (8.4%/10 mmHg versus 7.4%/10 mmHg, P < 0.05). SLDF enables the quantification and visualization of perfused capillaries of the retina and the optic nerve head in high resolution. Acute elevations of IOP led to a decreases in juxtapapillary retinal and optic nerve-head blood flow of 7.4% and 8.4%/ 10-mmHg IOP increase, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Ocular Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Optic Disk / blood supply*
  • Perfusion
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Retinal Vessels / physiology*