• Ocular blood flow;
  • Retinal perfusion;
  • Scanning laser Doppler flowmetry

Summary:  Purpose: Reduced cerebral blood flow and decreased cerebral glucose metabolism have been identified in patients with epilepsy treated with antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ocular haemodynamics are similarly reduced in patients with epilepsy treated with AEDs.

Methods: Scanning laser Doppler flowmetry was used to measure retinal capillary microvascular flow, volume, and velocity in the temporal neuroretinal rim of 14 patients diagnosed with epilepsy (mean age, 42.0 ± 0.9 years). These values were compared with those of an age- and gender-matched normal subject group (n = 14; mean age, 41.7 ± 0.3 years). Student's unpaired two-tailed t tests were used to compare ocular blood-flow parameters between the epilepsy and normal subject groups (p < 0.05; Bonferroni corrected).

Results: A significant reduction in retinal blood volume (p = 0.001), flow (p = 0.003), and velocity (p = 0.001) was observed in the epilepsy group (13.52 ± 3.75 AU, 219.14 ± 76.61 AU, and 0.77 ± 0.269 AU, respectively) compared with the normal subject group (19.02 ± 5.11 AU, 344.03 ± 93.03 AU, and 1.17 ± 0.301 AU, respectively). Overall, the percentage mean difference between the epilepsy and normal groups was 36.31% for flow, 28.92% for volume, and 34.19% for velocity.

Conclusions: Patients with epilepsy exhibit reduced neuroretinal capillary blood flow, volume, and velocity compared with normal subjects. A reduction in ocular perfusion may have implications for visual function in people with epilepsy.