Ethnic variability in retinal vessel caliber: a potential source of measurement error from ocular pigmentation?--the Sydney Childhood Eye Study.Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Apr; 49(4):1362-6.IO
To describe the effects of ethnicity and iris color on measurement of retinal vascular caliber.
The Sydney Childhood Eye Study (SCES) examined 1740 6-year-old children from 34 randomly selected Sydney schools during 2003 and 2004. Retinal arteriolar and venular calibers (central retinal arteriolar [CRAE] and central retinal venular [CRVE] equivalents) were measured from retinal photographs by a standardized computer-assisted
Associations of retinal vascular caliber with ethnicity and iris color were analyzed.
Of the total participants, 1612 (92.6%) had gradable retinal photographs. CRAE and CRVE were normally distributed, with means (SD) of 163.2 (14.0) and 227.3 (18.3) microm, respectively. Both arteriolar and venular calibers were substantially wider in the East Asian than in the Caucasian children (CRAE, 171.5 mum vs. 160.5 mum; and CRVE, 240.5 microm vs. 222.4 microm; P < 0.0001 for both comparisons). Among the Caucasian children, darker iris color was associated with wider arteriolar and venular caliber: CRAE increased from 157.5 microm in blue eyes to 169.2 microm in dark brown eyes (P for trend < 0.0001), and CRVE increased from 218.4 microm in blue eyes to 230.0 microm in dark brown eyes (P for trend < 0.0001). Among the children with dark brown eyes, there was no significant difference in CRAE between the Caucasian and the East Asian children, although mean CRVE was still approximately 10 mum wider in the East Asian than in the Caucasian children.
Retinal vessel caliber was wider in the children of East Asian ethnicity. This difference was explained principally by darker iris color. Retinal pigmentation, as approximated by iris color, could be an important source of error in the measurement of retinal vessel caliber. If confirmed, this may affect comparisons of retinal vessel caliber between subjects with different ethnic backgrounds.