Retinal vessel diameter and estimated cerebrospinal fluid pressure in arterial hypertension: the Beijing Eye Study

Am J Hypertens. 2014 Sep;27(9):1170-8. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpu037. Epub 2014 Mar 15.


Background: Hypertensive retinal microvascular abnormalities include an increased retinal vein-to-artery diameter ratio. Because central retinal vein pressure depends on cerebrospinal fluid pressure (CSFP), we examined whether the retinal vein-to-artery diameter ratio and other retinal hypertensive signs are associated with CSFP.

Methods: Participants of the population-based Beijing Eye Study (n = 1,574 subjects) underwent measurement of the temporal inferior and superior retinal artery and vein diameter. CSFP was calculated as 0.44 × body mass index (kg/m(2)) + 0.16 × diastolic blood pressure (mm Hg) - 0.18 × age (years) - 1.91.

Results: Larger retinal vein diameters and higher vein-to-artery diameter ratios were significantly associated with higher estimated CSFP (P = 0.001) in multivariable analysis. In contrast, temporal inferior retinal arterial diameter was marginally associated (P = 0.03) with estimated CSFP, and temporal superior artery diameter was not significantly associated (P = 0.10) with estimated CSFP; other microvascular abnormalities, such as arteriovenous crossing signs, were also not significantly associated with estimated CSFP. In a reverse manner, higher estimated CSFP as a dependent variable in the multivariable analysis was associated with wider retinal veins and higher vein-to-artery diameter ratio. In the same model, estimated CSFP was not significantly correlated with retinal artery diameters or other retinal microvascular abnormalities. Correspondingly, arterial hypertension was associated with retinal microvascular abnormalities such as arteriovenous crossing signs (P = 0.003), thinner temporal retinal arteries (P < 0.001), higher CSFP (P < 0.001), and wider retinal veins (P = 0.001) or, as a corollary, with a higher vein-to-artery diameter ratio in multivariable analysis.

Conclusions: Wider retinal vein diameters are associated with higher estimated CSFP and vice versa. In arterial hypertension, an increased retinal vein-to-artery diameter ratio depends on elevated CSFP, which is correlated with blood pressure.

Keywords: Beijing Eye Study; blood pressure; cerebrospinal fluid pressure; hypertension; hypertensive retinopathy; retinal microvascular abnormalities; retinal vessel diameter; trans-lamina cribrosa pressure difference..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arterial Pressure*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure*
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retinal Artery / pathology*
  • Retinal Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Retinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Retinal Vein / pathology*
  • Risk Factors