December 1991
Volume 32, Issue 13
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Articles  |   December 1991
Optic nerve head blood speed as a function of age in normal human subjects.
Author Affiliations
  • J F Rizzo, 3rd
    Neuro-Ophthalmology Service, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114.
  • G T Feke
    Neuro-Ophthalmology Service, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114.
  • D G Goger
    Neuro-Ophthalmology Service, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114.
  • H Ogasawara
    Neuro-Ophthalmology Service, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114.
  • J J Weiter
    Neuro-Ophthalmology Service, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science December 1991, Vol.32, 3263-3272. doi:
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      J F Rizzo, G T Feke, D G Goger, H Ogasawara, J J Weiter; Optic nerve head blood speed as a function of age in normal human subjects.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1991;32(13):3263-3272.

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Abstract

We used the laser Doppler technique to determine the relation between age and the speed of blood cells moving through the capillaries of the optic nerve head. We studied 22 normal human volunteers ranging in age from 16-76 years. The results were best described by a statistically significant quadratic relationship between capillary blood speed and age. Blood speeds were lowest in the youngest and oldest subjects and highest in subjects between 27 and 35 years old. A two-phase linear model showed a statistically significant 20% decrease in blood speed in volunteers between the ages of 31 and 76. The results were not affected by gender, degree of refractive error, systemic blood pressure, intraocular pressure, cup/disc ratio of the optic nerve head, or by site-to-site differences in the light scattering properties of the optic nerve head tissue. Capillary blood speed was, on average, 15% greater from temporal sites than from nasal sites, corresponding to the equally greater distribution of ganglion cell axons within the same area. The results provide a baseline of normal age-controlled data that can be compared to measurements obtained from patients with disorders of the optic nerve head thought to have a vascular etiology.

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