Retinal abnormalities in older people without diabetes are related to hypertension. Higher blood and pulse pressure are also associated with an increased incidence of macular abnormalities, including wet and dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These are the major findings of two studies appearing in the April issue of Ophthalmology, the clinical journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Eye M.D. Association.
The first study, assessing more than 2,000 men and women without diabetes, found retinal abnormalities in older people who do not have diabetes are related to high blood pressure, and retinopathy is associated with coronary heart disease, stroke, and carotid artery thickening. However, these conditions are distinct from atherosclerosis, a common form of hardening of the arteries.
According to Tien Yin Wong, FRCSE, MD, PhD, lead author of the Cardiovascular Health Study, "These changes may be markers for blood and small-vessel diseases of the brain, and have been shown to predict stroke independently of standard risk factors. Thus, patients with these changes may benefit from a full cardiovascular assessment." Dr. Wong is assistant professor at National University of Singapore and visiting assistant professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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