Purpose: The lamina cribrosa has been proposed as a site of origin of the optic nerve damage in glaucoma. The purpose of this study was to investigate, in vivo, the clinical features of the lamina cribrosa pores of glaucomatous patients and to relate their morphometric characteristics to the extent of their visual field loss. Methods: Images of the internal lamina cribrosa surface of 60 glaucomatous patients and 15 normal subjects were acquired, in vivo, using a scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO). A purposely developed technique of image processing was employed to objectively evaluate pore morphometry, with particular regard to their geometrical characteristics (circularity and elongation). Visual function was assessed by automated perimetry (Humphrey Field Analyser). Results: Normal subjects showed approximately round lamina pores. In glaucomatous patients, pores become more elongated and less circular with increasing field loss (p = 0.009 and p < 0.001, respectively). Conclusions: Scanning laser ophthalmoscopy and a new technique of image processing were employed, for the first time, to the investigation in vivo of the lamina cribrosa of glaucomatous patients, in relation to the extent of visual field loss. The results indicated differences in the lamina cribrosa pore morphometry associated with increasing severity of the disease. These changes may represent the result of compressing and shearing forces applied to the laminar plates.
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