Institut de Recherche en Ophtalmologie, Sion, Switzerland - Ecole d'Ingénieurs du Valais, Sion, Switzerland
Purpose. To determine retinal vessel diameter variations in response
to neuronal activity induced by diffuse luminance flicker.
Methods. The diameter of retinal arteries and veins was measured in 9 normal subjects by computer analysis of fundus pictures taken in monochromatic light under normal conditions of illumination and after 1 min of sinusoidally varying diffuse luminance flicker at 10 Hz.
Results. The diameter immediately after flicker was significantly larger than the pre-stimulus diameter by 4.2 ± 2.2% for the retinal arteries and 2.7 ± 1.7% for the retinal veins (mean ± SD). Six seconds after cessation of the flicker, arterial diameter was not significantly different from that of pre-flicker value.
Conclusions. Diffuse luminance flicker induces an increase in retinal vessel diameter. This increase most probably reflects an increase in retinal blood flow previously evidenced in humans by the blue field simulation technique. The technique needs to be optimized in terms of flicker parameters to determine whether flicker-evoked retinal diameter changes could represent a useful clinical measure of the capability of the retinal vascular system to vasodilate.
Key Words: Retinal diameter; flicker; neuronal activity; retinal blood flow.