Our purpose in this communication is to discuss an error that persists in ophthalmic literature concerning the interpretation of pulsation of the retinal arteries.
Two years after Helmholtz1 announced his discovery of the ophthalmoscope in 1851, Van Trigt2 and Coccius3 observed a venous pulsation on the papilla. The following year (1854) Jaeger4 described an arterial pulse in the retinal arteries and von Graefe5 noted retinal arterial pulsation in glaucoma. Since then, many observations have been published on pulsation of the retinal blood vessels. The opinion that pulsation of the retinal veins is physiologic, but that pulsation of the retinal arteries is always pathologic, became established in ophthalmic literature and persists to date. When it became possible to observe the fundus of the eye more minutely as the result of improvements in the ophthalmoscope, a few observers expressed doubt that a pulse in the retinal arteries
KEYES JEL, HATCHER WF. THE INTERPRETATION OF VISIBLE PULSATION IN THE RETINAL ARTERIES. JAMA. 1940;114(21):2089-2090. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810210021006