Researchers recently discovered that retinal arterioles were narrower in young adults with glaucomatous optic disc (GOD), defined here as cup-to-disc ratio ≥ 0.5 This suggests that the presence of GOD could be associated with subclinical changes in retinal vascularization, even in the absence of increased intraocular pressure, they note.

The clinic-based case-control study evaluated 54 patients between the ages of 18 and 30 who either had GOD (27 patients) or were healthy controls (27 patients).

The team of researchers found that the mean central retinal arteriolar equivalent (CRAE) was significantly narrower in patients with GOD; the average CRAE was 110.6 ±12.16μm for GOD patients and 118.6 ±12.17μm for healthy patients. A CRAE value narrower than 107.1μm—after adjusting for blood pressure, body mass index, random glucose level, serum lipids, and albumin level—was significantly associated with GOD, the study notes. It adds that the central retinal venular equivalent was not significantly different.

The researchers note that these findings add credence to the vascular theory of optic nerve damage in glaucoma; namely, “that vascular dysregulation plays an important role in changing the ocular perfusion pressure and altering blood flow, which leads to the development of glaucomatous optic nerve damage.” However, they caution against assuming that the mere presence of constricted arterioles is indicative of future risk of glaucoma.

Adiarti R, Ekantini R, Agni AN, et al. Retinal arteriolar narrowing in young adults with glaucomatous optic disc. J Glaucoma. 2018;27(8):699-702.