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V. Surguch, M. Budzinskaya, I. Gurova, I. Schegoleva, E. Kazarian, E. Privivkova; Estimation of Atherosclerotic Changes of Retinal Vessels. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):3302.
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A reliable and noninvasive method of estimating systemic atherosclerosis is lacking. Characteristic changes of retinal vessels are commonly used as a marker of atherosclerosis but they are observer-dependent and not specific. The purpose of present study was to develop an approach for estimating the thickness and regularity of the wall of proximal retinal arteries and to assess correlation of these parameters with cardiovascular disease.
Thickness of the wall of retinal arteries proximal to optic nerve disc was assessed by subtracting the thickness of vessel's lumen (as seen in fluorescein angiograthy) from the total vessel's diameter revealed by red free imaging with Heidelberg Retina Angiograph (Heidelberg Engeneering, Germany). Regularity of the thickness of the vessel's wall was also assessed by red-free imaging using custom-developed software. Three groups of patients were compared: (1) healthy young subjects, (2) aged subjects without significant cardiovascular diseases, (3) aged subjects with established significant cardiovascular disease.
Vessel's lumen comprised 71% of total vessel's diameter in aged subjects with cardiovascular disease, compared to 88% in aged subjects without known cardiovascular disease and 93% in younger subjects. Arterial wall's thickness was significantly greater in aged subjects with cardiovascular disease (0,015mm compared to 0,004mm). There was no significant difference in total retinal diameter between three groups. Vessel's wall irregularity was noted only in the latter group of patients.
Thickness of arterial vessel's wall can be assessed by comparing vessel's diameter seen in fluorescein angiography and red-free imaging (particularly with scanning laser ophthalmoscope system). This variable correlates with age and presence of systemic cardiovascular disease. To evaluate the significance of retinal arterial wall's thickness as a marker of systemic atherosclerosis and a risc factor larger population studies are needed.
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