Regional differences in oxygen saturation in retinal arterioles and venules

Rebekka Heitmar, Saima Safeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Retinal vessel oxygenation saturation measurements have been the focus of much attention in recent years as a potential diagnostic parameter in a number of ocular and systemic pathologies. This interest has been heightened by the ability to measure oxygen saturation in vivo using a photographic technique. METHODS: Retinal vessel oxygenation in venules and arterioles of 279 retinal vessels of 12 healthy Caucasian participants (mean age: 30 SD (+/- 6) years) were measured consecutively three times to evaluate short-term variation in oxygen saturation and regional variability of retinal vessel oxygen saturation using dual-wavelength technology (Oxymetry Modul, Imedos, Germany). All subjects underwent standard optometric assessment including non-contact intra-ocular pressure assessment as well as having their systemic blood pressure measured. RESULTS: Vessels were grouped as either near-macula or peripheral, depending on their location. Peripheral arterioles and venules exhibited significantly lower oxygen saturation compared to their near-macula counterparts (arterioles: 94.7% (SD 3.9) vs. 99.7% (SD 3.2); venules: 65.1% (SD 7.2) vs. 90.3% (SD 6.7)). Both arterioles and venules, main branches, and those feeding and draining the retina near the macula and periphery showed low short-term variability of oxygen saturation (arterioles: COV 1.2-1.8%; venules: COV 2.9-4.9%). CONCLUSIONS: Retinal arterioles and venules exhibit low short-term variation of oxygen saturation in healthy subjects. Regional differences in oxygen saturation could be a potential useful marker for risk stratification and diagnostic purposes of area-specific retinal pathology such as age-related macula degeneration and diabetic maculopathy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1429-1434
Number of pages6
JournalGraefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2012


  • oximetry
  • retina
  • arterioles
  • venules
  • variation
  • macula
  • periphery


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