Relationship between retinal blood flow and arterial oxygen

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Abstract

Retinal blood flow (RBF) increases in response to a reduction in oxygen (hypoxia) but decreases in response to increased oxygen (hyperoxia). However, the relationship between blood flow and the arterial partial pressure of oxygen has not been quantified and modelled in the retina, particularly in the vascular reserve and resting tonus of the vessels. The present study aimed to determine the limitations of the retinal vasculature by modelling the relationship between RBF and oxygen. Retinal vascular responses were measured in 13 subjects for eight different blood gas conditions, with the end-tidal partial pressure of oxygen (Symbol) ranging from 40–500 mmHg. Retinal vascular response measurements were repeated twice; using the Canon laser blood flowmeter (Canon Inc., Tokyo, Japan) during the first visit and using Doppler spectral domain optical coherence tomography during the second visit. We determined that the relationship between RBF and Symbol can be modelled as a combination of hyperbolic and linear functions. We concluded that RBF compensated for decreases in arterial oxygen content for all stages of hypoxia used in the present study but can no longer compensate below a Symbol of 32–37 mmHg. These vessels have a great vascular range of adjustment, increasing diameter (8.5% arteriolar and 21% total venous area) with hypoxia (40 mmHg Symbol; P < 0.001) and decreasing diameter (6.9% arteriolar and 23% total venous area) with hyperoxia (500 mmHg Symbol; P < 0.001) to the same extent. This indicates that the resting tonus is near the mid-point of the adjustment ranges at resting Symbol where sensitivity is maximum.

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