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    Functional imaging of ocular circulation under development

    OCT analysis of retina, optic nerve head could allow earlier glaucoma diagnosis

    Take-home message: Functional optical coherence tomography characterizing global and local circulation in the retina and optic nerve head shows promise for improving the diagnostic and prognostic evaluation of glaucoma.


    Portland, OR —Findings from research with functional optical coherence tomography (OCT) that characterizes global and local circulation in the retina and optic nerve head suggests this technology has great potential for improving glaucoma diagnosis and monitoring, according to David Huang, MD, PhD.>

    “OCT is being used today for structural analysis of retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness and ganglion cell complex (GCC) thickness,” said Dr. Huang, Peterson Professor of Ophthalmology and professor of biomedical engineering, Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR.

    However, it has limited sensitivity for detecting early glaucoma, and the structural OCT measures correlate only moderately with visual field loss, he noted.

    “Using OCT to assess function, we have found that total retinal blood flow and peripapillary vessel density is decreased in glaucomatous eyes, and that the flow measures are highly correlated with the visual field and only moderately correlated with OCT-measured structural loss,” Dr. Huang said.

    “Therefore, we believe that the reduced blood flow in glaucoma reflects some pathophysiologic factor that correlates very closely with the visual field, such as dysfunction in the neural structures, and that measurements of blood circulation can detect loss of function of nerve fibers or ganglion cells before thinning occurs. This would allow for earlier diagnosis of glaucoma,” he said.

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