PURPOSE. To assess retinal microvascular reactivity during dark adaptation and the transition to ambient light and after flicker stimulation using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA). METHODS. Fifteen eyes of 15 healthy participants were dark adapted for 45 minutes followed by OCTA imaging in the dark-adapted state. After 5 minutes of normal lighting, subjects underwent OCTA imaging. Participants were then subjected to a flashing light-emitting diode (LED) light and repeat OCTA. Parafoveal vessel density and adjusted flow index (AFI) were calculated for superficial (SCP), middle (MCP), and deep capillary plexuses (DCP), and then compared between conditions after adjusting for age, refractive error, and scan quality. SCP vessel length density (VLD) was also evaluated. Between-condition capillary images were aligned and subtracted to identify differences. We then analyzed images from 10 healthy subjects during the transition from dark adaptation to ambient light. RESULTS. SCP vessel density was significantly higher while SCP VLD was significantly lower during ambient light and flicker compared to dark adaptation. There was a significant positive mean value for DCP “flicker minus dark or light,” suggesting more visible vessels during flicker due to changes in flow, dilation, or vessel recruitment. We found a significant, transient increase in SCP and decrease in both MCP and DCP vessel density during the transition from dark to light. CONCLUSIONS. We show evidence suggesting constriction of deeper vessels and dilation of large SCP vessels during the transition from dark to light. This contrasts to redistribution of blood flow to deeper layers during dark adaptation and flicker stimulation.
- Dark adaptation
- Flicker stimulation
- Neurovascular coupling
- Optical coherence tomography angiography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience