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Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2007 Mar;51(2):352-62.

Retinal vascular signs in diabetes and hypertension--review.

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Centre for Vision Research, Department of Ophthalmology, Westmead Hospital, the Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


The retinal vasculature is a unique site where the microcirculation can be noninvasively imaged in vivo. This presents an opportunity to study otherwise inaccessible structural features of the microcirculation. Recently, a number of population-based studies have developed quantitative methods of measuring these retinal signs, and investigated how these signs relate to metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. These studies have reported fairly consistent associations of retinopathy lesions, arteriolar narrowing and venular dilation with these metabolic disorders, suggesting a microvascular component in either the pathogenesis or manifestation of these disorders. Further, several of these signs have been associated with future risk of cardiovascular outcomes, such as coronary heart disease and stroke, independently of traditional risk factors. This review will examine in detail the evidence linking retinal vascular signs with metabolic disorders and discuss their implications for research and clinical practice.

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