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John C. Morrison, Elaine C. Johnson, William O. Cepurna, Richard H. W. Funk; Microvasculature of the Rat Optic Nerve Head. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1999;40(8):1702-1709.
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purpose. To describe the arterial blood supply, capillary bed, and venous
drainage of the rat optic nerve head.
methods. Ocular microvascular castings from 6 Wistar rats were prepared by
injection of epoxy resin through the common carotid arteries. After
polymerization, tissues were digested with 6 M KOH, and the castings
washed, dried, and coated for scanning electron microscopy.
results. Immediately posterior to the globe, the ophthalmic artery trifurcates
into the central retinal artery and two posterior ciliary arteries. The
central retinal artery directly provides capillaries to the nerve fiber
layer and only contributes to capillary beds in the neck of the nerve
head. The remainder is supplied by branches of the posterior ciliary
arteries that are analogous to the primate circle of Zinn–Haller.
Arterioles arising from these branches supply the capillaries of the
transitional, or laminar, region of the optic nerve head. These
capillaries are continuous with those of the neck and retrobulbar optic
nerve head. All optic nerve head capillaries drain into the central
retinal vein and veins of the optic nerve sheath. A flat choroidal
sinus communicates with the central retinal vein, the choriocapillaris,
and with large veins of the optic nerve sheath.
conclusions. The microvasculature of the rat optic nerve head bears several
similarities to that of the primate, with a centripetal blood supply
from posterior ciliary arteries and drainage into the central retinal
and optic nerve sheath veins. Association of nerve sheath veins with
the choroid represents an important difference from the primate.
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