Purpose: To examine retinal and choroidal blood vessels using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). Methods: Retrospective case series. Results: Scans through retinal blood vessels in healthy subjects demonstrated vessel wall reflexes and a tri-layer profile of the blood column on longitudinal scans and a figure-of-eight configuration on cross-sectional scans. Intravascular reflectivity decreased with increasingly oblique angles of observation and was absent when blood flow was parallel to the line of sight. The high blood flow in the choroidal vessels in healthy subjects and the low flow in the retinal vessels in patients with ocular ischaemic syndrome and central retinal artery occlusion were both associated with lower reflectivity of the blood and an unstructured intravascular SD-OCT profile. Discussion: This qualitative in vivo study found a characteristically structured SD-OCT profile of the blood column in retinal vessels with normal blood flow. Both structure and total reflectivity faded when blood flow was lower or higher than normal or at oblique angles to the line of sight. In conclusion, SD-OCT scans of the vessels in the posterior pole of the eye may assist the clinical assessment of gross abnormalities of ocular blood flow, e.g. in carotid artery stenosis.
Acta Ophthalmologica (online), 2014, Vol 92, Issue 2, p. 126-132