Patients with abnormally narrow retinal arteries could be at an increased risk of developing glaucoma, suggest the results of a study published in the journalOphthalmology.
The authors report that patients whose retinal arteries had been the narrowest when the study began had an almost four-fold higher open-angle glaucoma (OAG) risk than those who had the widest arteries.
“Our results suggest that a computer-based imaging tool designed to detect narrowing of the retinal artery calibre, or diameter, could effectively identify those who are most at risk for open-angle glaucoma,” said lead author of the study, Paul Mitchell, from the Centre for Vision Research at the University of Sydney.
The researchers examined the associations between retinal vessel caliber and the 10-year incidence of OAG using data from nearly 2,500 individuals free from OAG at baseline.
Overall, 82 of the participants (104 eyes) developed incident OAG during the follow-up period. For each standard deviation increase in central retinal artery equivalent the 10-year risk for OAG increased by 77%. This association persisted even after adjustment for intraocular pressure and ocular perfusion pressure.
“These data support the concept that early vascular changes are involved in the pathogenesis of OAG,” write the study authors. “Computer-based measurements of retinal vessel caliber may therefore be useful to identify people with an increased risk of developing OAG.”
They add: “Such a tool would also need to account for blood pressure and other factors that can contribute to blood vessel changes. Early detection would allow ophthalmologists to treat patients before optic nerve damage occurs and would give us the best chance of protecting vision.”