Revised formulas for summarizing retinal vessel diameters

Curr Eye Res. 2003 Sep;27(3):143-9. doi: 10.1076/ceyr.


Background/Purpose. Recent findings suggest that an objective assessment of retinal vessel caliber from fundus photographs provide information about the association of microvascular characteristics with macrovascular disease. Current methods used to quantify retinal vessel caliber, introduced by Parr(1,2) and Hubbard,(3) are not independent of scale and are affected by the number of vessels. To improve upon these methods we introduce revised formulas for quantifying vessel caliber. Methods. Revised formulas were estimated using retinal vessel measurements from 44 young adults free of hypertension and diabetes. Comparisons between the two methods were done using digitized photographs from 4926 participants at the baseline examination of the Beaver Dam Eye Study (BDES), an ongoing population-based cohort study initiated in 1987. Individual arterioles and venules were measured using semi-automated computer software from which summary measures were calculated. Results. Correlation coefficients between the Parr-Hubbard and revised formulas were high (Pearson correlation coefficients ranging from 0.94 to 0.98). Both arteriolar and venular caliber significantly increased with an increasing number of vessels measured using the Parr-Hubbard formulas (p < 0.001), which in turn affected the relationship to mean arterial blood pressure. To the contrary, the revised formulas were not affected by the number of measured vessels (p > 0.50). Conclusions. We describe revised formulas for summarizing retinal vessel diameters measured from fundus photographs to be used in future studies and analyses. The revised formulas correlate highly with the previously used Parr-Hubbard formulas, but offer the advantages of being more robust against variability in the number of vessels observed, being independent of image scale, and being easier to implement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arterioles / anatomy & histology
  • Blood Pressure
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Photography
  • Retinal Vessels / anatomy & histology*
  • Retinal Vessels / physiology
  • Venules / anatomy & histology