Investigative ophthalmology & visual science

The impact of flash intensity on retinal vessel oxygen saturation measurements using dual wavelength oximetry.

PMID 23493292


To establish the optimal flash settings for retinal vessel oxygen saturation parameters using dual-wavelength imaging in a multiethnic group. Twelve healthy young subjects (mean age 32 years [SD 7]; three Mediterranean, two South Asian, and seven Caucasian individuals) underwent retinal vessel oxygen saturation measurements using dual-wavelength oximetry, noncontact tonometry, and manual sphygmomanometry. In order to evaluate the impact of flash intensity, we obtained three images (fundus camera angle 30°, ONH centered) per flash setting. Flash settings of the fundus camera were increased in steps of 2 (initial setting of 6 and the final of 22), which reflect logarithmic increasing intensities from 13.5 to 214 Watt seconds (Ws). Flash settings below 27 Ws were too low to obtain saturation measurements, whereas flash settings of more than 214 Ws resulted in overexposed images. Retinal arteriolar and venular oxygen saturation was comparable at flash settings of 27 to 76 Ws (arterioles' range: 85%-92%; venules' range: 45%-53%). Higher flash settings lead to increased saturation measurements in both retinal arterioles (up to 110%) and venules (up to 92%), with a more pronounced increase in venules. Flash intensity has a significant impact on retinal vessel oxygen saturation measurements using dual-wavelength retinal oximetry. High flash intensities lead to supranormal oxygen saturation measurements with a magnified effect in retinal venules compared with arteries. In addition to even retinal illumination, the correct flash setting is of paramount importance for clinical acquisition of images in retinal oximetry. We recommend flash settings between 27 to 76 Ws.