BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Age-related macular degeneration is associated with reduced perfusion of the eye; however, the role of altered blood flow in the upstream ophthalmic or internal carotid arteries is unclear. We used ultra-high-field MR imaging to investigate whether the diameter of and blood flow in the ophthalmic artery and/or the ICA are altered in age-related macular degeneration and whether any blood flow changes are associated with disease progression. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-four patients with age-related macular degeneration and 13 similarly-aged healthy controls participated. TOF and high-resolution dynamic 2D phase-contrast MRA (0.26×0.26×2mm3, 100-ms effective sampling rate) was acquired at 7T. Vessel diameters were calculated from cross-sectional areas in phase-contrast acquisitions. Blood flow time-series were measured across the cardiac cycle. RESULTS: The ophthalmic artery vessel diameter was found to be significantly smaller in patients with age-related macular degeneration than in controls. Volumetric flow through the ophthalmic artery was significantly lower in patients with late age-related macular degeneration, with a significant trend of decreasing volumetric ophthalmic artery flow rates with increasing disease severity. The resistance index was significantly greater in patients with age-related macular degeneration than in controls in the ophthalmic artery. Flow velocity through the ophthalmic artery and ICA was significantly higher in patients with age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmic artery blood flow as a percentage of ipsilateral ICA blood flow was nearly double in controls than in patients with age-related macular degeneration. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the hypothesis that vascular changes upstream to the eye are associated with the severity of age-related macular degeneration. Additional investigation into the potential causality of this relationship and whether treatments that improve ocular circulation slow disease progression is warranted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology