Associations of retinal vessel calibre with cardiovascular disease: a systematic literature review

This literature review aims to demonstrate that optometrists are well placed to use this technology in routine practice, in conjunction with measuring systemic BP.

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Optometrists have to examine the retina and its vasculature as part of a standard eye examination. Added to this, a thorough history and symptoms at the beginning of an examination will include both general health and family health history. All of these factors can highlight potential risks or issues with the cardiovascular system, but are optometrists making full use of the technology available to them in the investigation of cardiovascular disease (CVD)? Since the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study first published the use of objective formulae to determine static retinal vessel calibre, there has been a wealth of literature produced on the subject (Hubbard et al. 1999). The use of the Parr–Hubbard, and latterly Knudtson, formulae has all but become the gold standard when measuring retinal vessel calibre. Objective retinal vessel analysis is not currently performed in UK optometric practice, principally since there is no research demonstrating its suitability. Since optometrists are primary healthcare clinicians, detecting and monitoring systemic health changes, as well as ocular conditions, are important aspects of their practice.

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