Quantitative retinal vascular changes in obstructive sleep apnea

Jessica Y. Tong*, Mojtaba Golzan, Dana Georgevsky, Jonathan P. Williamson, Stuart L. Graham, Claude S. Farah, Clare L. Fraser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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