A recent study indicates an association between retinal microvascular changes and older adults exhibiting disabilities in performing daily activities. The study goes on to suggest that retinal signs could potentially be utilized to predict these outcomes among the patient population.

Data collected, researchers say, yielded from a cardiovascular health study. Dae Hyun Kim, MD, MPH, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass, and Harvard School of Public Health, also located in Boston, led the population-based study. The study reportedly focused on community-dwelling seniors. Kim and his team say they measured retinal signs that included arteriolar narrowing, generalized venular widening, retinopathy, arteriovenous nicking, and focal arteriolar narrowing.

According to researchers, retinal signs exhibited for reinopathy were 7%, 8% for arteriovenous nicking, and 10% for focal arteriolar narrowing. Researchers say older adults who exhibited two or more retinal signs numbered 7% of the study population with complete retinal data. Data collected at a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 7 years following the initial study, indicated a link between the presence of two or more retinal signs and a 1.45-fold increased rate of disability in seniors. Researchers say individual retinal signs were not linked in this way.

The study expounded upon this concept, suggesting a link between two or more retinal signs and the development of age-related disability compared to the presence of no signs. 

Researchers say the study supports the hypothesis that microvascular disease accelerates age-related disability and that retinal signs can be utilized in order to understand the mechanisms involved and predict disability-related outcomes. Researchers also spotlight the presence of two or more retinal signs as, “An early marker of microvascular disease that portends an elevated risk for future activities of daily living disability in community-dwelling older adults independently of major risk factors for disability and microvascular disease on brain MRI.”

The study was recently published in Archives of Opthalmology, a journal of the JAMA/Archives.

Source: Archives of Opthalmology