Author(s): Wang JJ, Mitchell P, Leung H, Rochtchina E, Wong TY, Klein R. Hypertensive retinal vessel wall signs in a general older population: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Hypertension. 2003 Oct;42(4):534-41. Epub 2003 Aug 25. PMID 12939235
To describe cross-sectional relations between hypertension and retinal vessel wall signs in an older white population. These signs were defined from fundus photographs in 3654 Blue Mountains Eye Study participants > or =49 years of age. Focal arteriolar narrowing and arteriovenous nicking were graded through the use of standard protocol. Photographs were digitized to measure retinal vessel diameters. Average arteriolar diameter, summarized as central retinal arteriolar equivalent and arteriole-to-venule ratio, were used as indexes of generalized arteriolar narrowing. Blood pressure was measured with the use of a mercury sphygmomanometer. Hypertension was defined through the use of antihypertensive medications, systolic blood pressure > or =160 mm Hg, or diastolic blood pressure > or =95 mm Hg. Hypertension was categorized as controlled (using medication, normal blood pressure), uncontrolled (using medication, high blood pressure), or untreated (not using medication). Hypertensive subjects had higher prevalence of all retinal microvascular signs. After adjusting for age, gender, body mass index, and smoking, persons with controlled (18.2%), uncontrolled (13.8%), or untreated hypertension (13.8%) were significantly more likely than normotensive subjects (54.2%) to have (a) lower central retinal arteriolar equivalent: adjusted odds ratios 1.5, (95% CI, 1.1 to 1.9), 2.1 (1.6 to 2.7), and 2.1 (1.6 to 2.7), respectively, and lower arteriole-to-venule ratio: 1.3 (1.0 to 1.6), 1.4 (1.1 to 1.8), and 1.7 (1.3 to 2.2), respectively; (b) focal arteriolar narrowing: 1.3 (0.9 to 1.9), 2.2 (1.5 to 3.2), and 2.5 (1.8 to 3.6), respectively; and (c) arteriovenous nicking: 1.3 (0.9 to 1.8), 2.3 (1.6 to 3.2), and 1.9 (1.3 to 2.7), respectively. Our findings demonstrate a strong relation between presence and severity of hypertension and retinal microvascular structural changes.