Topographic, haemodynamic and psychophysical investigation of glaucomatous optic neuropathy
Loss of optic nerve head (ONH) axons in primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) has been attributed to both mechanical and vascular factors. Confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (cSLO) provides a promising tool for the topographic follow-up of the ONH in glaucoma, while scanning laser Doppler flowmetry (SLDF) facilitates the rapid non-invasive assessment of retinal capillary blood flow. The purposes of these investigations were to optimise the techniques and explore their potential to classify and monitor disease. Preliminary investigations explored the reproducibility and validity of cSLO and SLDF and showed that: For cSLO: In a model eye, measurements are accurate over a range of axial lengths. For best reproducibility, seven images per visit are required, with a contour line located on Elschnig's scleral ring and transferred automatically between images. For SLDF: Three perfusion images are required for optimum reproducibility. Physiological changes induced by gas perturbation can be measured. Cross-sectional comparison of groups of normal subjects and early POAG patients showed that: cSLO parameters differentiate the early POAG group. Blood volume measured by SLDF showed group differences in superior nasal retina only. Longitudinal investigation of ONH topography, haemodynamic and visual field indices in normal subjects and POAG patients showed that: cSLO detects topographical change over time more frequently in the POAG group. Important parameters include: C:D area ratio, cup and rim area, mean depth in contour, volumes above and below reference and surface. Factor analysis identified "cup" and "rim" factors that can be used to detect change over time in individual patients. Blood flow changes were most apparent in the inferior nasal peripapillary retina of the POAG group. Perimetry is of clinical value for the identification of glaucoma but is less sensitive than cSLO for monitoring glaucomatous change.