Patients with AMD who also smoke may have altered retinal parameters. Photo: Reza Mehrad on Unsplash.

A recent study using OCT-A imaging to evaluate the characteristics of retinal vasculature in smoking patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) found that retinal vessels and retina-related indices are altered among these patients.

Forty-nine normal control nonsmokers, 12 normal control smokers, 38 dry AMD nonsmokers and 35 dry AMD smokers were included in this cross-sectional study. The researchers used OCT-A to compare foveal avascular zone, foveal density in a 300μm region around the foveal avascular zone, vessel densities of the superficial and deep capillary plexuses and central fovea retinal thickness.

Compared with the dry AMD nonsmoking group, data showed that the vessel densities of the whole, foveal and parafoveal sections of the superficial capillary plexus as well as the whole and parafoveal sections of the deep capillary plexus in the control nonsmoking group were all significantly higher in the control nonsmoking group. The study authors also observed that the whole vessel density of the superficial capillary plexus in the normal smoking group was higher vs. the dry AMD smoking cohort.

Additionally, the researchers reported that the thicknesses of the inner and full layer foveal retina in the normal nonsmoking group were significantly thicker compared with the dry AMD nonsmoking group. The findings also revealed a negative correlation between the pack-year history and parafoveal vessel density of the deep capillary plexus.

“Foveal density, superficial capillary plexuses, deep capillary plexuses and fovea retinal thickness are sensitive indices for the detection of early and intermediate dry AMD,” the study authors wrote in their paper. “Deep capillary plexuses is a sensitive indicator that reflects the effects of smoking on the retina. Considerable changes are observed in retinal vessels, suggesting that dry AMD may affect the retinal tissue to a certain extent.”

Yang W, Song C, Gao M, et al. Effects of smoking on the retina of patients with dry age-related macular degeneration by optical coherence tomography angiography. BMC Ophthalmol. July 22, 2022. [Epub ahead of print].