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Konstantin E. Kotliar, Bruno Mücke, Walthard Vilser, Rudolf Schilling, Ines M. Lanzl; Effect of Aging on Retinal Artery Blood Column Diameter Measured along the Vessel Axis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(5):2094-2102. doi: 10.1167/iovs.07-0711.
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purpose. To determine whether retinal branch arteries of healthy persons in different age groups show different longitudinal vessel profiles at baseline and during dynamic reaction to flicker stimulation.
methods. Thirty-three healthy subjects (age groups: 21–27 years, 40–59 years, and 60–85 years) were examined with the use of a retinal vessel analyzer. A monochromatic flicker of 12.5 Hz was applied for 60 seconds. Arterial diameters were measured in vessel segments of 1 mm in length to obtain the longitudinal vessel profile. Differences in amplitude and frequency of arterial width changes were characterized by the parameter spectral edge frequency (SEF).
results. SEF was significantly different between the young group and the senior group in each phase of the arterial reaction to flicker (baseline, dilation, constriction, relaxation; P < 0.05; Mann–Whitney U test). No significant difference within any age group was found in any phase of the arterial reaction. No significant difference between the middle-aged and either young or elderly subjects was found at baseline. However, after stimulation, the middle-aged group displayed a significant difference compared with the young group, with values resembling those of the elderly group.
conclusions. In healthy elderly subjects, retinal arteries assumed a significantly less regular longitudinal vessel profile than those of young subjects. Middle-aged subjects assumed a more irregular profile only in the stimulated states of dilation, constriction, and relaxation. Early age-related changes in vessel profile are noted only after metabolic demand. These changes might be a cause for impaired blood flow and blood-vessel wall interaction.
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