Clinical Science Imaging 

The Association Between Retinal Vessel Morphology and Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Thickness in an Elderly Population

Michael E. Grinton, MBChB; Augustinus Laude, MSc, FRCSEd(Ophth), FAMS(Ophth); Tom MacGillivray, PhD; Ross Henderson, MA(Hons); John M. Starr, FRCP(Ed); Ian J. Deary, FBA, FRSE, FMedSci; Peter Aspinall, MSc, PhD; Baljean Dhillon, BM BS, FRCS, FRCOphth

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the relationship between retinal vessel morphology (branching coefficient, bifurcation angle, and fractal analysis) and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness in an elderly population.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

One hundred and one participants from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (population of people all born in 1936) were studied. RNFL thickness measurements (using optical coherence tomography [OCT]) and digital retinal photographs were collected. The retinal images were analyzed using custom-designed software called the Vascular Assessment and Measurement Platform for Images of the Retina.

RESULTS:

Greater deviation from the optimal arteriolar branching coefficient was associated with greater RNFL thickness (r = 0.249, P = .028). There was no significant association between RNFL thickness and the other retinal vessel morphology parameters.

CONCLUSION:

RNFL thickness increased significantly with suboptimality of arteriole branching coefficient. These findings cannot be explained by our current understanding of OCT. OCT-based biomarker metrics require further study to better define retinal neurovascular imaging and anatomy.

From the National Health Service Lothian (MEG, JMS, BD); Clinical Research Imaging Centre, Queen’s Medical Research Institute (TM); Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, Department of Psychology (IJD); University of Edinburgh (RH); Royal Victoria Hospital (JMS); Herriot Watt University (PA); and Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion (BD), Edinburgh, United Kingdom; and the National Healthcare Group Eye Institute, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (AL), Novena, Singapore.

Supported by Age UK’s Disconnected Mind program (Lothian Birth Cohort 1936), the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (G0700704/84698), and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, and Medical Research Council.

The authors have no financial or proprietary interest in the materials presented herein.

The authors thank participants from Lothian Birth Cohort 1936; Dr. Alan J. Gow, Stuart Gairns, and Marion Brannon for their technical assistance with the patient recruitment and data acquisition; and Dr. Adria Perez-Rovira and Professor Emanuele Trucco from the School of Computing at the University of Dundee for the VAMPIRE software.

Address correspondence to Augustinus Laude, MSc, FRCSEd (Ophth), FAMS (Ophth), Department of Ophthalmology, National Healthcare Group Eye Institute, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, 11 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Singapore 308433. E-mail: draugustinuslaude@gmail.com

Received: February 02, 2012
Accepted: May 02, 2012
Posted Online: August 10, 2012

10.3928/15428877-20120802-03

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the relationship between retinal vessel morphology (branching coefficient, bifurcation angle, and fractal analysis) and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness in an elderly population.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

One hundred and one participants from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (population of people all born in 1936) were studied. RNFL thickness measurements (using optical coherence tomography [OCT]) and digital retinal photographs were collected. The retinal images were analyzed using custom-designed software called the Vascular Assessment and Measurement Platform for Images of the Retina.

RESULTS:

Greater deviation from the optimal arteriolar branching coefficient was associated with greater RNFL thickness (r = 0.249, P = .028). There was no significant association between RNFL thickness and the other retinal vessel morphology parameters.

CONCLUSION:

RNFL thickness increased significantly with suboptimality of arteriole branching coefficient. These findings cannot be explained by our current understanding of OCT. OCT-based biomarker metrics require further study to better define retinal neurovascular imaging and anatomy.

From the National Health Service Lothian (MEG, JMS, BD); Clinical Research Imaging Centre, Queen’s Medical Research Institute (TM); Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, Department of Psychology (IJD); University of Edinburgh (RH); Royal Victoria Hospital (JMS); Herriot Watt University (PA); and Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion (BD), Edinburgh, United Kingdom; and the National Healthcare Group Eye Institute, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (AL), Novena, Singapore.

Supported by Age UK’s Disconnected Mind program (Lothian Birth Cohort 1936), the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (G0700704/84698), and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, and Medical Research Council.

The authors have no financial or proprietary interest in the materials presented herein.

The authors thank participants from Lothian Birth Cohort 1936; Dr. Alan J. Gow, Stuart Gairns, and Marion Brannon for their technical assistance with the patient recruitment and data acquisition; and Dr. Adria Perez-Rovira and Professor Emanuele Trucco from the School of Computing at the University of Dundee for the VAMPIRE software.

Address correspondence to Augustinus Laude, MSc, FRCSEd (Ophth), FAMS (Ophth), Department of Ophthalmology, National Healthcare Group Eye Institute, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, 11 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Singapore 308433. E-mail: draugustinuslaude@gmail.com

Received: February 02, 2012
Accepted: May 02, 2012
Posted Online: August 10, 2012
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