Improved interpretation of flow maps obtained by scanning laser doppler flowmetry using a rat model of retinal artery occlusion

Dao-Yi Yu, R.J. Townsend, Stephen Cringle, B.C. Chauhan, William Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE. To improve the interpretation of Heidelberg Retina Flowmeter (HRF; Heidelberg Engineering GmBH, Dosselheim, Germany) flow maps by examining the influence of specific vascular structures and focus depth in the presence and absence of retinal blood flow.METHODS. HRF flow maps were recorded from the inferior retina of anesthetized Brown Norway rats over a wide range of focus levels, before and after laser occlusion of the retinal circulation. Analysis of the resultant flow maps showed that the sample window was positioned on a retinal artery, arteriole, or vein, or in a retinal capillary area, with or without a visible underlying choroidal vessel. The relationship between HRF-measured flow ( arbitrary units) and focus depth was determined for each location. At the conclusion of each experiment, the effect of reduction of systemic blood pressure on the choroidal circulation and the level of background signal in the HRF flow map with no ocular blood flow were assessed.RESULTS. The strongest flow signals came from the retinal arteries, veins, and arterioles and were reduced to choroidal background level after occlusion of the central retinal artery. Larger choroidal vessels also contributed strong flow signals. In contrast, the flow signal from the retinal capillary area was weak and unaffected by retinal artery occlusion. Changing the depth of focus significantly altered the contribution from the major retinal arteries, arterioles, and veins, but no significant depth effect was seen for retinal capillaries or choroidal vessels. The HRF flow signal remaining when systemic blood pressure was reduced to zero was not significantly different from the capillary sampling location when the eye was normally perfused.CONCLUSIONS. In the pigmented rat eye, the HRF signal from retinal capillaries is not significantly different from the background noise unrelated to blood flow. Strong flow signals can be obtained from the retinal arteries, retinal arterioles, retinal veins, and choroidal vessels. Current HRF flow maps in the rat therefore reflect blood flow in the larger elements of the microvasculature rather than the capillary network.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-174
JournalInvestigative ophthalmology & visual science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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