As cardiovascular events are a leading cause of death, their prevention is of key importance to public health. In the past, two longitudinal studies demonstrated that analyzing the wall morphology of small arteries could improve the prediction of such serious events. Unfortunately, in both studies, the measurement technique required extracting small blood vessels from under the skin. The invasive nature of these examinations has prevented further application in clinical routine.
An article recently published in the Journal of Hypertension demonstrated a totally non-invasive technique to perform similar assessments in retinal arteries. The method was based on adaptive optics, an ultrahigh resolution imaging technology that has enabled direct visualization of microscopic vascular walls in the retina. The results showed -for the first time- a strong correlation between findings obtained invasively in subcutaneous arterioles and non-invasively in the retina.
The authors, a team of cardiologists at the University of Brescia in Italy, concluded the study as follows: “In conclusion, noninvasive and easily repeatable procedure such as the evaluation of the arterioles in the fundus oculi by adaptive optics may provide similar information regarding microvascular morphology compared with an invasive, accurate and prognostically relevant micromyographic measurement  of subcutaneous small arteries.”
Retinal measurements in this study were based on images acquired using the rtx1 Adaptive Optics Retinal Camera.