The Location of the Inferior and Superior Temporal Blood Vessels and Interindividual Variability of the Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Thickness

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Abstract

Purpose

To determine if adjusting for blood vessel (BV) location can decrease the intersubject variability of retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness measured with optical coherence tomography (OCT).

Subjects and Methods

One eye of 50 individuals with normal vision was tested with OCT and scanning laser polarimetry (SLP). The SLP and OCT RNFL thickness profiles were determined for a peripapillary circle 3.4 mm in diameter. The midpoints between the superior temporal vein and artery (STva) and the inferior temporal vein and artery (ITva) were determined at the location where the vessels cross the 3.4 mm circle. The average OCT and SLP RNFL thicknesses for quadrants and arcuate sectors of the lower and upper optic disc were obtained before and after adjusting for BV location. This adjustment was carried out by shifting the RNFL profiles based upon the locations of the STva and ITva relative to the mean locations of all 50 individuals.

Results

Blood vessel locations ranged over 39 (STva) and 33 degrees (ITva) for the 50 eyes. The location of the leading edge of the OCT and SLP profiles was correlated with the location of the BVs for both the superior [r=0.72 (OCT) and 0.72 (SLP)] and inferior [r=0.34 and 0.43] temporal vessels. However, the variability in the OCT and SLP thickness measurements showed little change due to shifting. After shifting, the difference in the coefficient of variation ranged from −2.1% (shifted less variable) to +1.7% (unshifted less variable).

Conclusions

The shape of the OCT and SLP RNFL profiles varied systematically with the location of the superior and inferior superior veins and arteries. However, adjusting for the location of these major temporal BVs did not decrease the variability for measures of OCT or SLP RNFL thickness.

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