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E. Liu, N. Cheung, S. Saw, G. Liew, P. Mitchell, T. Wong; Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Retinal Vascular Caliber in Children. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):3903.
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As cardiovascular risk factors track through adolescence to adulthood, they may influence vascular structures early in life. This study aimed to describe associations of cardiovascular risk factors in early life periods with retinal vascular caliber in adolescents.
Cross-sectional study of 1225 adolescents aged 11 to 14 years who participated in the Singapore Cohort Study of the Risk Factors for Myopia (SCORM, 2005-6). Mydriatic digital retinal photographs were taken and graded for retinal vascular caliber, using a computer-based program. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from height and weight measured using standard protocols. Blood pressure (BP) was measured using automated sphygmomanometry. Birth parameters were obtained from health records completed soon after birth by nurses.
Higher systolic BP was associated with narrower retinal arteriolar caliber, after adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, axial length, spherical equivalent refraction, birth weight, BMI and venular caliber (0.13 µm decrease, p<0.001, per SD increase in BP). Greater BMI was associated with narrower arteriolar caliber (0.12 µm decrease, p<0.001) and wider venular caliber (0.15 µm increase, p <0.001, per SD increase in BMI), after adjustment. Children with lower birth weight had narrower arteriolar caliber (0.09 µm decrease, p=0.003, per SD decrease in birthweight). No relationship, however, was found between retinal vascular caliber and gestational age.
Our study shows that childhood cardiovascular risk factors, including higher BP, higher BMI and lower birthweight, were all associated with narrower retinal arteriolar caliber. These findings provide evidence that vascular risk factors in childhood may influence microvascular structure in adolescents, with potential implications for the development of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood.
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