Purpose To investigate the changes in macular blood flow and the correlation between those changes and central visual function in patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Methods The mean blur rate (MBR), a quantitative blurring index of the laser speckle pattern that represents retinal and choroidal blood flow, was measured by laser speckle flowgraphy. Mean blur rate values in the macular area were compared between 70 patients with RP and 28 control subjects. The relationships between MBR on the one hand and, on the other, visual acuity (VA), mean deviation (MD) and averaged macular sensitivity of static perimetry tests (Humphrey Filed Analyzer, the central 10-2 program) were analysed in patients with RP. Results Macular MBR was decreased to 75% in patients with RP compared with control subjects (p < 0.0001, Student's t-test). Spearman's rank testing showed that macular MBR was significantly correlated with VA (r = -0.261, p = 0.0299), MD values (r = 0.438, p = 0.0002) and averaged macular sensitivity at the central 4 and 12 points of static perimetry tests (r = 0.426 and 0.442, p = 0.0003 and 0.0002, respectively). Multivariable-adjusted analysis confirmed that MBR was independently associated with MD (p = 0.0002) and macular sensitivity at the central 4 and 12 points (p < 0.0001 and 0.0002, respectively). Conclusions Decreased macular blood flow was associated with reduced macular visual sensitivity in patients with RP. Although the cause-effect relationships remain to be elucidated, these findings suggest that vascular defects may be involved in the pathogenesis of RP such as central vision loss.
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