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Retinal vascular tortuosity in obstructive sleep apnea

Authors Mohsenin A, Mohsenin V, Adelman RA

Published Date April 2013 Volume 2013:7 Pages 787—792


Received 18 December 2012, Accepted 4 February 2013, Published 26 April 2013

Amir Mohsenin,1 Vahid Mohsenin,2 Ron A Adelman1

1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA; 2Yale Center for Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Purpose: Endothelial dysfunction and vascular disease are common in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). We sought to examine the retinal vascular manifestations of OSA.
Methods: Nine consecutive patients with OSA underwent ophthalmic examination regardless of any ocular complaints. Seven patients without OSA matched for demographics were used as controls. Fundus photographs from both eyes were used to quantitate retinal vascular tortuosity of the temporal arterial and venous arcades using ImageJ digital analysis software. The tortuosity of each vessel from the optic disc rim to the crossing point of a 5 disc diameter (5DD) circle and 10 disc diameter (10DD) circle centered on the optic disc were quantitated.
Results: The mean age of patients with OSA in the study was 52 years ± SD of 10 years and 67 years ± SD of 10 years in the control group. The apnea-hypopnea index in patients with OSA ranged from 12 to 102 events/hr of sleep. The nadir oxyhemoglobin saturation during sleep in patients with OSA ranged from 60% to 87%. There was no significant difference in the frequency of diabetes or hypertension between the groups. Total tortuosity was increased at the 5DD (P = 0.011) and 10DD (P = 0.004) marks. Arterial tortuosity was significantly increased at the 10DD mark (P = 0.016). Venular tortuosity was increased at both the 5DD (P = 0.001) and 10DD (P = 0.028) marks.
Conclusion: Patients with OSA have increased retinal vascular tortuosity as compared to matched controls. Increased tortuosity of the retinal vasculature may be a novel association with OSA. A larger prospective study will be necessary to further explore this relationship and its clinical significance.

Keywords: retinal vessel tortuosity, sleep apnea, retinal vasculature, retinal vascular tortuosity

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