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Retinal, choroidal thickness affected by COPD

04 May 2020

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may experience short-term changes in retinal and choroidal optical coherence tomography (OCT) parameters, a recent study has shown.

The study included 48 COPD patients (mean age, 65.8±11.8 years; 79.1 percent male), corresponding to 96 eyes, of whom 14 had mild-to-moderate disease (group 1) while 34 had advanced disease (group 2). OCT was performed for the analyses of ganglion cell complex (GCC), subfoveal choroidal thickness (SFCT), and retinal nerve fibre length (RNFL). Forty controls (80 eyes) were also included.

COPD patients in group 2 had lower inferior segment RNFL thickness values relative to controls both during the initial examination (p=0.002) and at 3 months after (p<0.001). Similarly, average GCC analysis revealed lower results in group 2 COPD participants at both time points (p=0.001 and p<0.001, respectively).

SFCT was likewise lower in group 2 COPD patients than in both group 1 and control participants during the initial examination and at the 3-month examination.

Correlation analysis further revealed that in group 2 participants, the number of smoked packets of cigarettes per year and the number of COPD attacks per year were negatively correlated with average RNFL values. The number of yearly attacks was also inversely associated with various GCC and SFCT measures.

“[I]t is evident that COPD patients should be evaluated in more details in terms of accompanying ocular pathologies that appear as a result of systemic hypoxaemia,” researchers said. Further randomized and larger controlled trials are required to better understand the effects of hypoxia on ocular tissues.

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