Impact of intraocular pressure on changes of blood flow in the retina, choroid, and optic nerve head in rats investigated by optical microangiography

Zhongwei Zhi, William O. Cepurna, Elaine C. Johnson, John C. Morrison, Ruikang K. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


In this paper, we demonstrate the use of optical coherence tomography/optical microangiography (OCT/OMAG) to image and measure the effects of acute intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation on retinal, choroidal and optic nerve head (ONH) perfusion in the rat eye. In the experiments, IOP was elevated from 10 to 100 mmHg in 10 mmHg increments. At each IOP level, three-dimensional data volumes were captured using an ultrahigh sensitive (UHS) OMAG scanning protocol for 3D volumetric perfusion imaging, followed by repeated B-scans for Doppler OMAG analysis to determine blood flow velocity. Velocity and vessel diameter measurements were used to calculate blood flow in selected retinal blood vessels. Choroidal perfusion was calculated by determining the peripapillary choroidal filling at each pressure level and calculating this as a percentage of area filling at baseline (10 mmHg). ONH blood perfusion was calculated as the percentage of blood flow area over a segmented ONH area to a depth 150 microns posterior to the choroidal opening. We show that volumetric blood flow reconstructions revealed detailed 3D maps, to the capillary level, of the retinal, choroidal and ONH microvasculature, revealing retinal arterioles, capillaries and veins, the choroidal opening and a consistent presence of the central retinal artery inferior to the ONH. While OCT structural images revealed a reversible compression of the ONH and vasculature with elevated IOP, OMAG successfully documented changes in retinal, choroidal and ONH blood perfusion and allowed quantitative measurements of these changes. Starting from 30 mm Hg, retinal blood flow (RBF) diminished linearly with increasing IOP and was nearly extinguished at 100 mm Hg, with full recovery after return of IOP to baseline. Choroidal filling was unaffected until IOP reached 60 mmHg, then decreased to 20% of baseline at IOP 100 mmHg, and normalized when IOP returned to baseline. A reduction in ONH blood perfusion at higher IOP's was also observed, but shadow from overlying retinal vessels at lower IOP's limited precise measurements of changes in ONH capillary perfusion compared to baseline. Therefore, OCT/OMAG can be a useful tool to image and measure blood flow in the retina, choroidal and ONH of the rat eye as well as document the effects of elevated IOP on blood flow in these vascular beds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2220-2233
Number of pages14
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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