Background: Bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SCZ), are associated with greater vascular co-morbidities and adverse vascular events. Owing to shared developmental origins and morphology, retinal vasculature is a proxy assessment measure of the cerebral vasculature. Although retinal vascular fractal dimension (D-f), a measure of vascular geometry and complexity of branching, has been shown to be directly associated with cerebrovascular pathology, it has not been examined in SCZ and BD.
Methods: We studied 277 participants (92 healthy volunteers, 98 SCZ, and 87 BD) from 18 to 50 years of age. Images were acquired by trained personnel using a non-mydriatic fundus camera and the retinal vascular D-f was calculated by the box-counting method using an automated algorithm. The average D-f across the left and right eyes were calculated.
Results: Both SCZ and BD had significantly increased D-f compared to HV despite controlling for possible confounding factors. However, there was no significant difference between SCZ and BD. These findings suggest abnormal retinal vascular D-f in psychoses.
Limitations: The study design was cross-sectional, and patients were on medications. Confound of lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, if any, was not controlled. Sub-group analysis between BD-I and BD-II was not performed in view of the small sample.
Conclusions: Considering the easy accessibility, affordability, and non-invasive nature of the examination, retinal vascular D-f could serve as a surrogate marker for cerebral vascular abnormality and could potentially identify BD and SCZ patients at risk of developing adverse vascular events.
- Bipolar disorder
- Fractal dimension
- MICROVASCULAR ABNORMALITIES
- Retinal vasculature