Choriocapillaris flow deficit and the risk of referable diabetic retinopathy: a longitudinal SS-OCTA study

Br J Ophthalmol. 2022 May 16;bjophthalmol-2021-320704. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2021-320704. Online ahead of print.


Aims: To investigate the association between the choriocapillaris flow deficit percentage (CC FD%) and the 1-year incidence of referable diabetic retinopathy (RDR) in participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM).

Methods: This prospective cohort study included participants with type 2 DM. The DR status was graded based on the ETDRS-7 photography. The CC FD% in the central 1 mm area, inner circle (1.5 mm to 2.5 mm), outer circle (2.5 mm to 5.0 mm) and the entire area in the macular region were measured using swept-source optical coherence tomography angiography (SS-OCTA). Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between baseline CC FD% and 1-year incident RDR.

Results: A total of 1222 patients (1222 eyes, mean age: 65.1±7.4 years) with complete baseline and 1-year follow-up data were included. Each 1% increase in baseline CC FD% was significantly associated with a 1.69 times (relative risk 2.69; 95% CI 1.53 to 4.71; p=0.001) higher odds for development of RDR after 1-year follow-up, after adjusting for other confounding factors.

Conclusions: A greater baseline CC FD% detected by SS-OCTA reliably predicted higher risks of RDR in participants with type 2 DM. Thus, CC FD% may act as a novel biomarker for predicting the onset and progression of DR.

Keywords: Anatomy; Choroid; Diagnostic tests/Investigation; Epidemiology; Imaging.