Rat optic nerve head anatomy within 3D histomorphometric reconstructions of normal control eyes

Marta Pazos, Hongli Yang, Stuart K. Gardiner, William O. Cepurna, Elaine C. Johnson, John C. Morrison, Claude F. Burgoyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to three-dimensionally (3D) characterize the principal macroscopic and microscopic relationships within the rat optic nerve head (ONH) and quantify them in normal control eyes. Perfusion-fixed, trephinated ONH from 8 normal control eyes of 8 Brown Norway Rats were 3D histomorphometrically reconstructed, visualized, delineated and parameterized. The rat ONH consists of 2 scleral openings, (a superior neurovascular and inferior arterial) separated by a thin connective tissue strip we have termed the "scleral sling". Within the superior opening, the nerve abuts a prominent extension of Bruch's Membrane (BM) superiorly and is surrounded by a vascular plexus, as it passes through the sclera, that is a continuous from the choroid into and through the dural sheath and contains the central retinal vein (CRV), (inferiorly). The inferior scleral opening contains the central retinal artery and three long posterior ciliary arteries which obliquely pass through the sclera to obtain the choroid. Bruch's Membrane Opening (BMO) is irregular and vertically elongated, enclosing the nerve (superiorly) and CRV and CRA (inferiorly). Overall mean BMO Depth, BMO Area, Choroidal Thickness and peripapillary Scleral Thickness were 29μm, 56.5×103μm2, 57μm and 104μm respectively. Mean anterior scleral canal opening (ASCO) and posterior scleral canal opening (PSCO) radii were 201±15μm and 204±16μm, respectively. Mean optic nerve area at the ASCO and PSCO were 46.3×103±4.4×103μm2 and 44.1×103±4.5×103μm2 respectively. In conclusion, the 3D complexity of the rat ONH and the extent to which it differs from the primate have been under-appreciated within previous 2D studies. Properly understood, these anatomic differences may provide new insights into the relative susceptibilities of the rat and primate ONH to elevated intraocular pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Eye Research
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Glaucoma
  • Neural canal
  • Optic nerve
  • Optic nerve head
  • Rat
  • Scleral canal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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