August 1964
Volume 3, Issue 4
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Articles  |   August 1964
Retinal Vascular Response to Breathing Increased Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen Concentrations
Author Affiliations
  • REGINA FRAYSER
    Departments of Physiology and Medicine, University of Indiana Medical School, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • JOHN B. HICKAM
    Departments of Physiology and Medicine, University of Indiana Medical School, Indianapolis, Ind.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science August 1964, Vol.3, 427-431. doi:https://doi.org/
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      REGINA FRAYSER, JOHN B. HICKAM; Retinal Vascular Response to Breathing Increased Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen Concentrations. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1964;3(4):427-431. doi: https://doi.org/.

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Abstract

The retina has a high rate of oxygen consumption, and the retinal vessels are known to constrict with increased arterial oxygen tension and dilate when arterial oxygen falls. In 10 subjects, measurement of retinal venous oxygen saturation by a photographic technique has shown an increase from 55 ± 8 per cent saturation breathing air to 82 ± 9 per cent breathing 100 per cent O2. This increase was accompanied by a 12 ± 6 per cent decrease in retinal arterial size and a decrease of 15 ± 3 per cent in venous diameter. This 27 per cent increase in oxygen saturation is significantly greater than the expected maximum increase of 15 percent. Unlike the cerebral vessels, the retinal vessels showed no significant vasodilatation following inhalation of 10 per cent CO2- 21 per cent O2. However, there was a significant increase (p < .005) in retinal venous oxygen saturation, suggesting that a flow change had occurred. The inhalation of 10 per cent CO2- 90 per cent O2 significantly reduced the vasoconstrictor effect of oxygen alone while significantly increasing the retinal venous oxygen saturation to 88 ± 9 per cent from 82 ± 9 per cent found with O2 inhalation alone. From the decrease in retinal arteriovenous O2 difference, it appears that retinal blood flow can alter without changes in visible vessel diameter. It is possible that vessel diameter is changing in vessels which are too small to be measured by the present technique. Carbon dioxide appears to be capable of significantly reducing the vasoconstrictor response to oxygen.

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