A new technique expands on existing optical coherence tomography (OCT) methods to measure blood flow in the retina and explore how that relates to the development of glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in industrialized countries. OCT is an important tool in diagnosing problems in the retina. Its downfall, however, is that it lacks the ability to provide more specific information about retinal function. A new technique is allowing enhanced study of glaucoma. Courtesy of the Austrian Science Fund. “We are testing the hypothesis that the blood flow in the retina is reduced in glaucoma,” said Leopold Schmetterer, a professor at the Medical University of Vienna. “At the same time, we will also evaluate the technology we developed — in particular its suitability for the long-term analysis of retinal blood flow in individual patients.” The new method, called Fourier domain optical Doppler tomography (FDODT), which will involve further development of OCT, records cross-section images of the retina as a way to quantify blood flow and study its influence on glaucoma. The technique is now part of a comparative study looking at blood flow in the retinas of glaucoma patients as opposed to those with healthy retinas. The study is also looking at how retinal vessels can regulate blood flow on their own. “We are analyzing whether the self-regulation of the blood flow in the optic disc is defective in glaucoma,” Schmetterer said. The work is being funded by the Austrian Science Fund clinical research program. For more information, visit www.fwf.ac.at.