Vessel density in OCT angiography permits differentiation between normal and glaucomatous optic nerve heads

Int J Ophthalmol. 2018 May 18;11(5):835-843. doi: 10.18240/ijo.2018.05.20. eCollection 2018.


Aim: To evaluate whether optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) can detect altered vessel density (VD) at the optic nerve head (ONH) in glaucoma patients. Special attention is paid to the accuracy of the OCTA technique for distinguishing healthy from glaucomatous eyes.

Methods: A total of 171 eyes were examined by the OCTA system AngioVue™ (Optovue): 97 eyes diagnosed with glaucoma and 74 healthy control eyes. The papillary and peripapillary VD was measured. Furthermore, the VD was correlated with different structural and functional measurements. In order to test the accuracy of differentiation between eyes with and without glaucoma, we calculated the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) and the area under the curve (AUC).

Results: The papillary and peripapillary VD in glaucomatous eyes was significantly lower than in healthy eyes (P<0.05). The VD of the nasal peripapillary sector was significantly lower than in the other sectors. The further the disease had progressed [measured by determining the thickness of the ganglion cell complex (GCC) and the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL)] the greater the VD reduction. The AUC discriminated well between glaucomatous and normal eyes (consensus classifier 94.2%).

Conclusion: OCTA allows non-invasive quantification of the peripapillary and papillary VD, which is significantly reduced in glaucomatous eyes and accurately distinguishes between healthy and diseased eyes. OCTA expands the spectrum of procedures for detecting and monitoring glaucoma.

Keywords: blood flow; glaucoma; optic nerve head; optical coherence tomography angiography.