Regional differences in retinal vascular reactivity

Hak Sung Chung, Alon Harris, Paul J. Halter, Larry Kagemann, Emma J. Roff, Hanna J. Garzozi, Sarah L. Hosking, Bruce J. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Although glaucomatous visual field defects are more common in the superior field than in the inferior field, microaneurysms are more frequent in the superior than in the inferior retina in diabetic retinopathy. The authors hypothesized that differences in vascular hemodynamics in the two areas might contribute to these phenomena. METHODS. The blood flow response to hyperoxia and hypercapnia was evaluated in peripapillary retinal tissue superior and inferior to the optic nerve head using confocal scanning laser Doppler flowmetry. In 14 young, healthy persons, blood flow was measured while breathing room air and during isocapnic hyperoxia (100% O2 breathing) and isoxic hypercapnia (Pco2 increased 15% above baseline). Histograms were generated from pixel-by-pixel analysis of retinal portions of superior and inferior temporal quadrants of the entire image. RESULTS. Baseline blood flow in the inferior temporal quadrant was significantly greater than in the superior temporal quadrant (P < 0.05). However, the inferior region failed to increase in perfusion during hypercapnia and experienced significant mean blood flow reduction; flow reduction in the pixels at the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentile of flow; and an increased percentage of pixels without measurable flow, during hyperoxia (each P < 0.05). In contrast, in the superior temporal region hyperoxia failed to reduce blood volume, velocity, or flow, whereas hypercapnia significantly increased mean flow; increased flow in the pixels at the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentile of flow; and reduced the percentage of pixels without measurable flow (each P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS. The inferior temporal quadrant of the peripapillary retina is, in comparison with the superior temporal region, less responsive to vasodilation and more responsive to vasoconstriction. These differences could contribute to different susceptibility to visual field defect or vascular dysfunction in the superior and inferior retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2448-2453
Number of pages6
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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    Chung, H. S., Harris, A., Halter, P. J., Kagemann, L., Roff, E. J., Garzozi, H. J., Hosking, S. L., & Martin, B. J. (1999). Regional differences in retinal vascular reactivity. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 40(10), 2448-2453.