Purpose: The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the superficial, intermediate, and deep retinal vascular plexus show different responses to intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation. Methods: Anesthetized adult Long Evans rats (n = 14) were imaged using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA; Spectralis) at baseline (IOP 10 mm Hg) and in follow-up mode to examine the vasculature during IOP elevation (10 to 110 mm Hg, 10 mm Hg steps, each step 3 minutes). A 20° × 10° field was imaged. Vessel density within a 2D projection image was determined (%) for the superficial vascular complex (SVC), intermediate capillary plexus (ICP), and deep capillary plexus (DCP). Comparisons were made between layers using 2-way repeated measures ANOVA (layer versus IOP) following normalization to baseline (% relative to 10 mm Hg). Results: The three vascular layers responded differently to IOP elevation. For IOPs between 40 and 60 mm Hg, DCP and ICP capillaries were significantly more resistant to IOP elevation than those in the SVC. When IOP was elevated above 70 mm Hg, all layers showed reduced vessel density. IOP induced change in SVC vessel density closely followed reductions in thickness of the inner retinal layers (nerve fiber, ganglion cell, and inner plexiform layer). This close relationship between reductions in tissue thickness and vessel density was less apparent for the ICP and DCP. Conclusions: These data show that the intermediate and deep vascular plexus in the rat retina have a greater capacity for autoregulation against mild IOP elevation but are more affected at high IOP.
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- intraocular pressure
- Trilaminar vascular network
- Intraocular pressure