In a poetic sense, the eyes may be the window to the soul, but OCT technology is proving that, in a scientific sense, the eyes can be the window to the heart. That’s because OCT can help clinicians discover comorbid risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, according to a newly published study. That research shows that detectable differences in subfoveal choroidal thickness exist between groups with and without cardiovascular disease risk factors. 

The Boston-based research team looked at 143 patients from the Jamaica Plain Veteran’s Administration Hospital. The participants’ subfoveal choroidal thicknesses were measured using Spectralis SD-OCT macular scans and their medical charts were analyzed for cardiovascular data. They found that patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia had thicker-than-average subfoveal choroids. They also noted that those with a thinner-than-average subfoveal choroid were more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.

The study says that the researchers were interested in comparing cardiovascular health to choroidal thickness because ophthalmoscopic examination allows for direct evaluation of in vivo human vasculature.

Druckenbrod R, Asefzadeh B, Bertolet A. Impact of cardiovascular disease risk factors on subfoveal choroidal thickness by enhanced-depth spectral domain optical coherence tomography. Optom Vis Sci. 2020;97(2):73-80.