Relationship of blood pressure and other factors to serial retinal arteriolar diameter measurements over time: the beaver dam eye study

Arch Ophthalmol. 2012 Aug;130(8):1019-27. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2012.560.


Objective: To describe the relationship of blood pressure (BP), antihypertensive medication use, and other factors to serial measurements of retinal arteriolar diameters over time in the Beaver Dam Eye Study.

Methods: Retinal arteriolar diameter was measured by computer-assisted methods and summarized as central retinal arteriolar equivalent (CRAE) in 4573 persons aged 43 to 99 years at 4 examinations (each separated by 5 years) during a 15-year period. Associations of CRAE with risk factors measured concurrently and 5 years previously were determined using multivariate analyses.

Results: While adjusting for image quality, refraction, and lens status, age (per 10 years: β estimate, -0.73; P < .001), systolic BP (per 10 mm Hg: concurrent examination, -2.74; P < .001; previous examination, -1.75; P < .001), smoking status (smoker vs nonsmoker: concurrent examination, 4.29; P < .001; previous examination, 1.63; P = .004), body mass index (per category: concurrent examination, -0.51; P = .05; previous examination, -0.22; P = .44), and heavy alcohol consumption (drinking) (current vs past/never heavy drinker: concurrent examination, -2.54; P = .03; previous examination, -2.42; P = .02) were associated with CRAE. In the same model, there were significant interactions between concurrent and previous systolic BP (0.11; P = .003) and between concurrent and previous body mass index (0.12; P = .04). Use of calcium channel blockers at both the concurrent and past examination (vs neither examination, 1.59; P = .01), but not other classes of antihypertensive drugs, was associated with CRAE.

Conclusions: Retinal arteriolar diameter is independently associated with past and current systolic BP, calcium channel blocker use, smoking status, body mass index, and heavy drinking during 5-year intervals. The relationships with CRAE are stronger for concurrent than for past measures of these variables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arterioles / pathology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Artery / pathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Calcium Channel Blockers