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Retinal blood flow and nerve fiber layer measurements in early-stage open-angle glaucoma.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the relationship between retinal circulatory abnormalities and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thinning in early-stage open-angle glaucoma (OAG) to help elucidate the mechanisms underlying the development of glaucomatous optic neuropathy.

DESIGN: Prospective cross-sectional.

METHODS: Twelve patients with early OAG and a known maximum untreated intraocular pressure less than 22 mm Hg (age, 61.4 +/- 9.7 years; Humphrey visual field mean deviation -2.7 +/- 2.1) and eight age-matched healthy control subjects (age, 58.5 +/- 8.3 years) were included in the study. Blood column diameter, centerline blood speed, and retinal blood flow were measured in the major inferior temporal retinal artery using a Canon laser Doppler blood flow instrument (CLBF 100; Canon, Tokyo, Japan). Peripapillary RNFL thickness was measured using a Stratus optical coherence tomography instrument.

RESULTS: On average, there were significant reductions in retinal blood speed (P = .009) and flow (P = .010) in OAG patients compared to controls. The RNFL was significantly thinner in the OAG patients compared to controls (P = .002). There were significant inverse correlations between retinal blood flow and average RNFL thickness and RNFL thickness in the inferior quadrant within the glaucoma group (Rsq = 0.50, P = .01; Rsq = 0.62, P = .003).

CONCLUSION: The results showed that a thinner RNFL was associated with a higher retinal blood flow in patients with early-stage OAG. The mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain to be elucidated.

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