Regulation of Retinal and Optic Nerve Blood Flow

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Blood flow to the retina and optic nerve remains constant over a range of elevated intraocular pressure or mean arterial pressure, independent of sympathetic activation (pressure autoregulation).In addition, increased metabolic activity in these tissues proportionally increases blood flow (metabolic autoregulation). At constant metabolic rate, altered arterial oxygen content reciprocally alters blood flow, leaving total oxygen delivery constant, while blood flow rises and falls with the arterial carbon dioxide tension. These responses are similar to those of the cerebral circulation. However, while aging, atherosclerosis, arterial hypotension, and individual variation may profoundly alter blood flow regulation and predispose to the development of illness, these factors remain largely unexplored.

Arch Ophthalmol.1998;116:1491-1495

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