Evaluating diurnal variations in retinal perfusion using optical coherence tomography angiography


Background: Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) is a non-invasive tool for imaging and quantifying the retinal and choroidal vasculature as well as perfusion state in healthy eyes. Choroidal perfusion is subject to diurnal variation, showing lowest perfusion in the morning and highest in the afternoon. In this index study, OCTA was used to investigate diurnal changes of the retinal perfusion in healthy adult eyes and to identify impacting factors since retinal perfusion is known to be mainly determined by autoregulatory mechanisms. Methods: A prospective study was conducted on healthy volunteers, each of whom underwent repeated measurements of mean arterial pressure (MAP), intraocular pressure (IOP), macular volume (MV), subfoveal choroidal thickness (SFCT), foveal avascular zone (FAZ) and retinal perfusion of the superficial capillary plexus (SCP), deep capillary plexus (DCP) and full retina (FR) slab at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Possible influence of MAP or IOP on the retinal perfusion was evaluated. Results: A total of 22 eyes of 22 participants (mean age 55.91 ± 14.84) were analysed. Significant diurnal changes from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. were observed for MAP (p < 0.001) and SFCT (p = 0.017). The perfusion of SCP, DCP and FR as well as the size of the FAZ and the MV did not show significant fluctuation during the day. No significant correlation between MAP or IOP and retinal perfusion values were detectable. Conclusion: OCTA-based analysis of the retina in healthy adults demonstrated a steady perfusion of both plexus during the day, independently of changes in MAP. These findings support the theory of autoregulatory mechanisms of the retinal blood flow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalInternational journal of retina and vitreous
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 03.06.2020

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)


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