Correlation between the radial peripapillary capillaries and the retinal nerve fibre layer in the normal human retina

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© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. This study aims to provide evidence of the importance of radial peripapillary capillaries (RPCs) by quantitative study of the relationship between the RPCs and retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) in normal human donor eyes. The retinal microvasculature in eleven normal human donor eyes was perfused, fixed and labelled after cannulation of the central retinal artery. The retinas were dissected and whole-mounted for confocal microscopy. Six study regions were taken radially from the edge of the optic disc. RPCs from the optic disc edge to a radial distance up to 2.5mm were imaged and their diameters, inter-capillary distance and volume occupation measured. These were correlated with the study region as well as thickness of the RNFL. It was found that the pooled average diameter of the RPCs in the first 2.5mm from the optic disk was 8.9μm. Significant differences in capillary diameter were present in the six regions, with larger diameter RPCs in the superior, inferior and nasal regions, and significantly smaller diameter in the temporal region. RPCs in the arcuate fibre regions extend the furthest from the optic disc, maintained a close inter-capillary distance for a longer distance than other regions, and have the highest RPCs volume occupancy. The RPCs volume was generally correlated with RNFL thickness. In conclusion, a close correlation between RNFL and RPCs presence has been demonstrated which is supportive of their functional reliance/co-dependence. The significantly smaller temporal RPCs may be a result of the greater presence of RPCs in the two bordering arcuate fibre regions and therefore a richer availability of nutrients diffusing from these two regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-92
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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