The retinal volumetric flow rate contains useful information not only for ophthalmology but also for the diagnosis of common civilization diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, or cerebrovascular diseases. Non-invasive optical methods for quantitative flow assessment, such as Doppler optical coherence tomography (OCT), have certain limitations. One is the phase wrapping that makes simultaneous calculations of the flow in all human retinal vessels impossible due to a very large span of flow velocities. We demonstrate that three-dimensional Doppler OCT combined with three-dimensional four Fourier transform fast phase unwrapping (3D 4FT FPU) allows for the calculation of the volumetric blood flow rate in real-time by the implementation of the algorithms in a graphics processing unit (GPU). The additive character of the flow at the furcations is proven using a microfluidic device with controlled flow rates as well as in the retinal veins bifurcations imaged in the optic disc area of five healthy volunteers. We show values of blood flow rates calculated for retinal capillaries and vessels with diameters in the range of 12-150 µm. The potential of quantitative measurement of retinal blood flow volume includes noninvasive detection of carotid artery stenosis or occlusion, measuring vascular reactivity and evaluation of vessel wall stiffness.

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Journal Biomedical Optics Express
Pijewska, E. (Ewelina), Sylwestrzak, M. (Marcin), Gorczynska, I. (Iwona), Tamborski, S. (Szymon), Pawlak, M.A. (Mikolaj A.), & Szkulmowski, M. (Maciej). (2020). Blood flow rate estimation in optic disc capillaries and vessels using Doppler optical coherence tomography with 3D fast phase unwrapping. Biomedical Optics Express, 11(3), 1336–1353. doi:10.1364/BOE.382155