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Raymond L. Warner, Thomas J. Gast, Kaitlyn A. Sapoznik, Alessandra Carmichael-Martins, Stephen A. Burns; Measuring Temporal and Spatial Variability of Red Blood Cell Velocity in Human Retinal Vessels. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(14):29. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.14.29.
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The retinal circulation regulates blood flow through various internal and external factors; however, it is unclear how locally these factors act within the retinal microcirculation. We measured the temporal and spatial variability of blood velocity in small retinal vessels using a dual-beam adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope.
In young healthy subjects (n = 3), temporal blood velocity variability was measured in a local vascular region consisting of an arteriole, capillary, and venule repeatedly over 2 days. Data consisted of 10 imaging periods separated into two sessions: (1) five 6-minute image acquisition periods with 30-minute breaks, and (2) five 6-minute image acquisition periods with 10-minute breaks. In another group of young healthy subjects (n = 5), spatial distribution of velocity variability was measured by imaging three capillary segments during three 2-minute conditions: (1) baseline imaging condition (no flicker), (2) full-field flicker, and (3) no flicker condition again.
Blood velocities were measurable in all subjects with a reliability of about 2%. The coefficient of variation (CV) was used as an estimate of the physiological variability of each vessel. Over 2 days, the average CV in arterioles was 7% (±2%); in capillaries, it was 19% (±6%); and, in venules, it was 8% (±2%). During flicker stimulation, the average capillary CV was 16% during baseline, 15% during flicker stimulation, and 18% after flicker stimulation.
Capillaries in the human retina exhibit spatial and temporal variations in blood velocity. This inherent variation in blood velocity places limits on studying the vascular regulation of individual capillaries, and the study presented here serves as a foundation for future endeavors.
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