Inter-relationship of arterial supply to human retina, choroid, and optic nerve head using micro perfusion and labeling

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PURPOSE. The prevailing view is that the human retina is supplied by the central retinal artery (CRA), the short posterior ciliary arteries (SPCAs) support the choroid, and both the CRA and the SPCAs are so-called ‘‘end artery’’ systems. In this study, we investigate whether vascular connections among the retina, choroid, and the optic nerve head (ONH) exist, using selective cannulation and microperfusion-labeling techniques. METHODS. The CRA and/or one or more of the SPCAs were selected for cannulation in 18 human donor eyes. Fluorescent probes with different excitation wavelengths were perfused through different arteries on the same eye to distinguish the supply sources of different vascular beds. After labeling and fixation, the ONH region was dissected either longitudinally or transversely as thick sections for confocal microscopy. Retina, choroid, and ONH were imaged from whole-mount specimens. RESULTS. Probes perfused through the CRA or the SPCA alone labeled the microvessels in the retina, choroid, and ONH regions, as well as the optic nerve trunk. The vessels of the lamina cribrosa and the optic nerve trunk were labeled when probes were perfused through the SPCA. Perfusion through both the CRA and SPCA produced double labeling of vessels in the retina, the choroid, and the ONH. CONCLUSIONS. The results indicate an inter-relationship of arterial supply to the retina, choroid, and ONH in the human eye. This has important implications in understanding clinical observations and disease mechanisms such as that of glaucoma and ischemic optic nerve disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3565-3574
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


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