Quantitatively determining physiological parameters at a microscopic level in the retina furthers the understanding of the molecular pathways of blinding diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. An essential parameter, which has yet to be quantified noninvasively, is the retinal oxygen metabolic rate (rMRO(2)). Quantifying rMRO(2) is challenging because two parameters, the blood flow rate and hemoglobin oxygen saturation (sO(2)), must be measured together. We combined photoacoustic ophthalmoscopy (PAOM) with spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) to tackle this challenge, in which PAOM measured the sO(2) and SD-OCT mapped the blood flow rate. We tested the integrated system on normal wild-type rats, in which the measured rMRO(2) was 297.86 +/- 70.23 nl/minute. This quantitative method may shed new light on both fundamental research and clinical care in ophthalmology in the future.
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