Purpose: To investigate systemic and ocular determinants of peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer thickness (pRNFLT) in the European population. Design: Cross-sectional meta-analysis. Participants: A total of 16 084 European adults from 8 cohort studies (mean age range, 56.9±12.3–82.1±4.2 years) of the European Eye Epidemiology (E3) consortium. Methods: We examined associations with pRNFLT measured by spectral-domain OCT in each study using multivariable linear regression and pooled results using random effects meta-analysis. Main Outcome Measures: Determinants of pRNFLT. Results: Mean pRNFLT ranged from 86.8±21.4 μm in the Rotterdam Study I to 104.7±12.5 μm in the Rotterdam Study III. We found the following factors to be associated with reduced pRNFLT: Older age (β = –0.38 μm/year; 95% confidence interval [CI], –0.57 to –0.18), higher intraocular pressure (IOP) (β = –0.36 μm/mmHg; 95% CI, –0.56 to –0.15), visual impairment (β = –5.50 μm; 95% CI, –9.37 to –1.64), and history of systemic hypertension (β = –0.54 μm; 95% CI, –1.01 to –0.07) and stroke (β = –1.94 μm; 95% CI, –3.17 to –0.72). A suggestive, albeit nonsignificant, association was observed for dementia (β = –3.11 μm; 95% CI, –6.22 to 0.01). Higher pRNFLT was associated with more hyperopic spherical equivalent (β = 1.39 μm/diopter; 95% CI, 1.19–1.59) and smoking (β = 1.53 μm; 95% CI, 1.00–2.06 for current smokers compared with never-smokers). Conclusions: In addition to previously described determinants such as age and refraction, we found that systemic vascular and neurovascular diseases were associated with reduced pRNFLT. These may be of clinical relevance, especially in glaucoma monitoring of patients with newly occurring vascular comorbidities.
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