Introduction: To investigate the additive systemic inflammatory process of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in arterial hypertension patients, structural and morphological changes of the retina and optic nerve head were assessed by modern topographic technologies. Similarities of underlying vascular mechanisms between RA and arterial hypertension are interesting and have not been researched in depth. The aim of this study is to evaluate changes of RA and arterial hypertension with the optic coherence topography (OCT) and Heidelberg retina tomography (HRT III), to validate RA changes in comparison to arterial hypertension only patients and, finally, if these methods are useful to detect the chronic inflammatory influence of the RA on the eye.
Methods: In this prospective study design, data of 18 patients with RA and arterial hypertension (55.3 ± 4.31 years old), positive for antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides, 21 patients with arterial hypertension (54.2 ± 4.18 years old) and 19 healthy subjects (53.1 ± 3.25 years old) were included. Intensive ophthalmologic and internistic screening tests were carried out in all subjects. All participants were investigated for the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and macula thickness with the OCT (Carl Zeiss AG Germany) and for stereometric parameters of the optic nerve head with the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph III (Heidelberg Engineering Germany). The pachymetry was conducted by the Orbscan II system (Bausch & Lomb). Statistical data were assessed by SPSS, v20.0.
Results: No significant differences were found in visual function, diastolic and systolic blood pressure. RNFL, and macular thickness (Stratus-OCT) were almost consistent between the groups and even the main stereometric parameters measured with HRT III showed no significant differences.
Conclusion: Contrary to our study hypothesis no structural and morphological changes could be detected in patients with arterial hypertension without RA compared to healthy subjects. Furthermore, no RA-specific effects could be shown in comparison with the hypertension group. Thus, the used examination techniques are not suitable to prove the systemic inflammatory influence of RA on the eye.
Keywords: Arterial hypertension; Heidelberg Retina Tomograph III; Optic coherence tomography; Retinal nerve fiber layer; Rheumatoid arthritis.