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Accessory optical device for the Heidelberg retina angiograph (HRA classic) to perform angiography of the vitreous cavity and the anterior eye segment

Mennel, Stefan MD; Schwendinger, Rudolf MD; Hausmann, Norbert MD; Peter, Silvia MD

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Indian Journal of Ophthalmology: Jul–Aug 2007 - Volume 55 - Issue 4 - p 295-297
doi: 10.4103/0301-4738.33043
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Indocyanine green angiography (ICG-A) and fluorescein angiography (FA) of the anterior segment are not commonly used in clinical practice, although several studies have underlined their importance for elucidating a wide range of eye pathologies like vascular occlusions, diabetic microangiopathy, glaucoma, tumors and injury.12345

The Heidelberg retina angiograph (HRA) has been commercially available for approximately ten years. Currently an updated version has been released in the market, the HRA II. The original one has been renamed "HRA classic". The new apparatus, the HRA II, possesses the option to examine the anterior segment and the vitreous cavity of the eye. This possibility does not exist in the original HRA classic yet. Therefore it would be useful to design an adaptable lens equipment for the HRA, to upgrade it for an extended use in the anterior segment and vitreous cavity.

The HRA produces real upright images. The parallel rays emerging from the HRA are focused in an emmetropic eye on the retina. To visualize the anterior segment of the eye, the parallel rays should be brought into focus at a distance of about 2 cm in front of the optic top of the HRA. Consequently, a plus lens of about 50 diopters is needed. The goal of this study was to develop an easy-to-use and low-cost optical device to expand the application of the HRA classic for the vitreous cavity and the anterior segment of the eye.

Materials and Methods

Two types of lenses were integrated in the new accessory device for the HRA classic. A 60-diopters lens (VOLK 60D) was used for imaging the anterior segment and a 30-diopters lens (VOLK 30D) for angiography of the vitreous cavity [Fig. 1]. The second piece of the cylindrical plastic frame was used to fixate the lens. The opening of the accessory devices was designed to fit on the cylindrical optic top of the HRA classic, so that it was placed exactly in the optical axis of the HRA classic.

Figure 1
Figure 1:
Heidelberg Retina Angiograph (HRA classic) and the accessory optical device. a: The two white pieces of the cylindrical plastic frame and the magnifying lens. b: The lens is inserted in the bigger piece, as its diameter matches the inner diameter of the frame, the smaller is used to fixate the lens. c: The adapter at the top of the HRA classic


Once placed at the optic top of the HRA classic the angiography of the anterior segment could be performed with the technique familiar from angiography of the retina and choroid. The device could easily be attached or removed without changing the patient's position, allowing angiography of the fundus, the vitreous cavity and the anterior segment without delay. The size of the scanned area could be varied between 10, 20 and 30 degrees. As the images were scanned by a resolution of 512 x 512 pixels, the 10-degree mode allowed the highest resolution. The confocal mode of the HRA provided tomographic scans of the area in focus, whereas the tissues of the anterior or posterior level to that plane were not added to the image. The HRA offers an available range of +11 to -11 diopters to focus on the favored area. Angiography of the anterior segment using the 60-diopters lens and of a choroidal melanoma with tumor extension in the vitreous cavity using a 30-diopters lens was performed and is presented as follows.

Angiography of the iris

First case: A 42-year-old man suffered from an insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Ophthalmic examination revealed proliferative diabetic retinopathy and a decent rubeosis iridis. FA of the iris, using the new accessory optical device, demonstrated patches of avascular iris [Fig. 2]. Leakage at the pupillary margin became evident in the late phase FA.

Figure 2
Figure 2:
Glaucoma secondary to rubeosis iridis in a case of proliferative diabetic retinopathy: a: Late phase fluorescein angiography FA of the iris five minutes after dye injection: FA demonstrates fine straight, mostly radial vessels on the surface of the iris. A nonperfusion area appears in an inferior sector of the iris. Circumferential loops of new vessels become evident mostly at the pupil margin and show leakage of fluorescein profusely into the anterior chamber. b: Indocyanine green angiography ICG-A of the iris one minute after dye injection: ICG-A demonstrates deeper, larger and more tortuous vessels than FA, where the pigmentation of the iris causes blockade phenomenon

Second case: A 66-year-old man presented with general arteriosclerotic disease. A central retinal vein occlusion in the left eye five months before required fundus angiography. At this time the anterior and posterior segment examination revealed no signs of ischemia. Angiography of the iris presented physiologic findings without any proliferation or leakage in the late phase angiogram in the left eye. Although ophthalmic examination did not show any pathologic findings in the right eye, angiography of the iris surprisingly revealed small new vessels mainly at the pupil margin and leakage in the late phase [Fig. 3], requiring further pupillary evaluation and follow-up.6

Figure 3
Figure 3:
Fellow-eye of a patient with central retinal vein occlusion showing unremarkable slit-lamp and fundus examination of this eye. a: Indocyanine green angiography (ICG-A) of the iris one minute after dye injection: ICG-A shows some large, corkscrewed vessels most evident towards the pupil margin. b: Fluorescein angiography (FA) of the iris five minutes after dye injection: The neovascularization present leakage of fluorescein profusely into the anterior chamber, most evident in the pupil area. Angiography of the anterior segment discloses ischemia requiring further evaluation and follow-up

Angiography of a choroidal melanoma with extension in the vitreous cavity:

A 58-year-old man complained of a decrease of visual acuity in his left eye for several months. Fundus examination revealed a huge brownish tumor mass. The tumor height was 10.6 mm with the typical signs of a choroidal melanoma evaluated by A-scan-ultrasonography. On ICG-A images the tumor caused a black area due to its localization anterior to the focused plane [Fig. 4a]. As the HRA consists of a confocal scanning system, a tomographic image was performed, scanning only details from the focal plane. Using the accessory device with the 30-diopters lens, visualization of the tumor was possible. Thus, tomographic scans through the tumor were obtained, allowing the visualization of leakage of fluorescein at the tumor's surface in the late phase of FA [Fig. 4b]. In contrast, ICG-A allowed a tomographic scan through the tumor and visualization of the tumor's own vessels, as the emission of ICG is in the near infrared range, allowing transmission despite the tumor's intense pigmentation [Fig. 4c].

Figure 4
Figure 4:
Choroidal melanoma, 10.5 mm in height as measured by A-Scan ultrasound. a: Conventional Indocyanine green angiography (ICG-A) of the fundus, four minutes after dye injection. The composite show a physiologic choroidal perfusion except of the tumor, which is more anterior to the focused plane and therefore in black (white arrows). b: Fluorescein angiography (FA) image of the vitreous cavity using the accessory optic device with a 30-diopters lens, eight minutes after dye injection: The image presents a tomographic plane though the tumor. Remarkable is the leakage of tumor vessels at the surface of the choroidal melanoma. c: ICG-A image of the vitreous cavity two minutes after dye injection. As the pigmentation of the tumor does not cause blockade phenomenon in ICG-A the tumor vessels can be visualized


This newly designed optical accessory for the HRA classic allowed the angiographic evaluation of the anterior segment as well as the vitreous cavity. Although the new laser scanning ophthalmoscope from Heidelberg Engineering, the HRA II, already includes this facility, the "HRA classic" is still widely used and will not be replaced at once. The advantages of this new accessory optical device are easy with fast attachment to and removal from the HRA classic, allowing both, anterior and posterior segment angiography in the same session. Furthermore, costs are reduced by the integration of a magnification lens commonly used with indirect ophthalmoscopes and therefore widespread and easily available. As the adapter is always positioned exactly in the optical path and at a constant distance to the optics of the HRA, the images are reproducible in size. Therefore adequate follow-up, especially important in tumors is granted. The high magnification and the resolution of 512 x 512 pixels enables the visualization of iris neovascularization even when slit-lamp examination does not allow adequate diagnosis.


We thank Mr. Djurica Bajic for the technical support and manufacture of the optical device.

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4. Lindblom B. Fluorescein angiography of the iris in the management of eyes with central retinal vein occlusion Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 1998;76:188–91
5. Maruyama Y, Kishi S, Kamei Y, Shimizu R, Kimura Y. Infrared angiography of the anterior ocular segment Surv Ophthalmol. 1995;39:S40–8
6. Parodi MB, Bondel E, Russo D, Ravalico G. Iris indocyanine green videoangiography in diabetic iridopathy Br J Ophthalmol. 1996;80:416–9

Angiography; eye; fluorescein angiography; Heidelberg retina angiograph; indocyanine green angiography; iris; iris angiography; optic device; vitreous cavity.

© 2007 Indian Journal of Ophthalmology | Published by Wolters Kluwer – Medknow