One cross-sectional study has found that the association of cerebral perfusion changes with alterations of the optic disc and the retina may contribute to the early diagnosis of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). Mild to moderate POAG patients presented with reduced cerebral blood flow (CBF) in early visual cortical areas and in the higher-tier visual left lateral occipital cortex.

Researchers in Beijing investigated correlations between reduced CBF in early and higher-tier visual cortical areas and glaucomatous changes in the retinas of patients with mild to moderate POAG. The study measured CBF values noninvasively and compared those of 15 mild to moderate POAG patients with a control group of 20.

POAG patients showed significantly decreased standardized CBF in the early visual cortical areas: left V1, bilateral V2, right ventral posterior area and in the left lateral occipital cortex, a higher-tier visual cortical area.

The study suggests that altered cerebrovascular autoregulation may contribute to the pathophysiology of the neurodegenerative process that results in POAG, but how the cerebrovascular system affects neuronal function during this process is still unclear. Cerebrovascular insufficiency may cause unstable delivery of nutrients to local neurons and possibly accelerate neurodegeneration in the central nervous system of POAG patients.

Wang Q, Chen W, Qu X, et al. Reduced cerebral blood flow in the visual cortex and its correlation with glaucomatous structural damage to the retina in patients with mild to moderate primary open-angle glaucoma. J Glaucoma. 2018;27(9):816-822.