PainRelief.com Interview with:
Katherine Podraza MD, PhD
Headache medicine specialist at Hartford HealthCare Headache Center
Assistant Professor of Neurology
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: We know migraine is a complex and disabling neurovascular neurological disorder that has to do with the dysfunction of cortical networks in the brain. The eye given its direct connections to the brain through neuronal and vascular supply may also show changes related to migraine.
We studied changes in blood vessel structure and perfusion in the eye during migraine attacks using a non-invasive imaging technology called OCTA (Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography). As part of the study, patients with migraine (both with and without aura) were scanned both during an attack as well as between migraine attacks. In addition, we scanned healthy controls for comparison.
Our goal with the interictal scan (scans done when patients are not having an attack) was to find out if we can find imaging biomarkers for migraine. Our second goal was to use OCTA to find out if there are any changes in perfusion during a migraine attack. This could lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of migraine.
For the analysis, we specifically focused on two important regions in the retina, the fovea which processes our highest acuity vision and the parafovea which is the surrounding area and provides additional visual processing support. The fovea has the largest density of cone photoreceptors and also includes the foveal avascular zone which is devoid of blood vessels.
The parafovea surrounds the foveal region and is an area that has the thickest layer of retinal ganglion cells which transmit inputs from photoreceptors to various regions of the brain via the optic nerve. This region, given the complex interaction of neuronal cells and vascular inputs, was a perfect location to investigate migraine mechanisms.