Evaluation of the Retinal Vasculature in Hypertension and Chronic Kidney Disease in an elderly population of Irish nuns

Amy McGowan, Giuliana Silvestri, Evelyn Moore, Vittorio Silvestri, Christopher Patterson, Alexander Maxwell, Gareth McKay

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) and hypertension are global public health problems associated with considerable morbidity, premature mortality and attendant healthcare costs. Previous studies have highlighted that non-invasive examination of the retinal microcirculation can detect microvascular pathology that is associated with systemic disorders of the circulatory system such as hypertension. We examined the associations between retinal vessel caliber (RVC) and fractal dimension (DF), with both hypertension and CKD in elderly Irish nuns.

Methods: Data from 1233 participants in the cross-sectional observational Irish Nun Eye Study (INES) were assessed from digital photographs with a standardized protocol using computer-assisted software. Multivariate regression analyses were used to assess associations with hypertension and CKD, with adjustment for age, body mass index (BMI), refraction, fellow eye RVC, smoking, alcohol consumption, ischemic heart disease (IHD), cerebrovascular accident (CVA), diabetes and medication use.

Results: In total, 1122 (91%) participants (mean age: 76.3 [range: 56-100] years) had gradable retinal images of sufficient quality for blood vessel assessment. Hypertension was significantly associated with a narrower central retinal arteriolar equivalent (CRAE) in a fully adjusted analysis (P = 0.002; effect size= -2.16 μm; 95% confidence intervals [CI]: -3.51, -0.81 μm). No significant associations between other retinal vascular parameters and hypertension or between any retinal vascular parameters and CKD were found.

Conclusions: Individuals with hypertension have significantly narrower retinal arterioles which may afford an earlier opportunity for tailored prevention and treatment options to optimize the structure and function of the microvasculature, providing additional clinical utility. No significant associations between retinal vascular parameters and CKD were detected.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0136434
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2015

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