Quantitative Retinal Vascular Changes in Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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Journal Article
American Journal of Ophthalmology, 2017, 182 pp. 72 - 80
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© 2017 Elsevier Inc. Purpose To examine the relationship between both static and dynamic retinal vascular caliber and the severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Design Prospective cross-sectional study. Methods Adult patients undergoing diagnostic polysomnography studies at a private Australian university teaching hospital were recruited. OSA severity was defined by the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI): severe >30, moderate >15–30, mild 5–15, and controls <5. Of 115 patients recruited (73 male; mean age 58 ± 13 years), there were 41 severe, 35 moderate, and 25 mild OSA patients and 14 controls. Static retinal vascular caliber was measured as the average diameter of retinal arterioles (CRAE) and venules (CRVE), and summarized as the arteriovenous ratio (AVR). Dynamic retinal vascular caliber was evaluated as the average pulsation amplitude of retinal arterioles (SRAP) and venules (SRVP). Comparisons across groups were performed using multivariate linear regression analysis. All results were adjusted for age, body mass index, and mean arterial pressure. Results Increasing AHI was significantly associated with decreasing AVR (P =.008) and CRAE (P =.016). A significant relationship was demonstrated between increasing AHI and attenuated retinal vascular pulsation amplitude (arterioles P =.028; venules P <.0001). Conclusions Increasing OSA severity is independently associated with retinal arteriolar narrowing and attenuated vascular pulsation amplitude. The retinal vasculature is easily imaged, and may be a surrogate biomarker of cerebral and systemic vascular risk in patients with OSA requiring further comprehensive investigation.
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