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Obesity Impact on Retinal Structures

Chinese research has found that obesity affects retinal structures in different ways, depending on whether the obesity is generalised or abdominal.

The study used optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) to identify possible associations between body mass index (BMI) and the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) with macular vessel density and foveal avascular zone in 1,555 healthy Chinese adults. Study participants were 50 years or older with no history of ocular disease.

The investigators reported that the vessel density of the superficial capillary plexus and the deep capillary plexus increased with increases in BMI.

A positive association was found between generalised obesity and the superficial vessel density in the entire image, the inner circle, and the outer circle.

After adjusting for confounders, tertile 3 of the WHR level was positively associated with the superficial vessel density and deep vessel density in the inner circle, they reported.

The study concluded that generalised obesity and increased superficial vessel density are associated, and abdominal obesity and increased superficial and deep vessel density are associated only in the inner circle. This indicates that different manifestations of the retinal microvasculature may reflect distinct roles of body composition on macular vessel changes and disease occurrence.


  1. Ding Q, Wu H, Wang W, et al. Association of body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio with retinal microvasculature in healthy Chinese Adults: An OCTA Study. Am J Ophthalmol. Published online October 11, 2022; DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j. ajo.2022.09.012