Mechanical tissue stresses are important contributors to the increased risk of sight-threatening pathology in larger, more myopic eyes. The contribution of altered ocular vasculature to the development of this pathology is less well defined. The current study investigated the impact of eye size on the superficial vasculature of the macula. Subjects (n = 104) aged 18–50, with no history of ocular or vascular disease, or myopia control, were recruited from university staff and student populations in Australia and Hong Kong. Refractive error, ocular size, retinal morphology and vascular morphology were quantified through open field autorefraction, ocular biometry and ocular coherence tomography angiography. Morphology of the superficial retinal capillary plexus was assessed over a 3 × 3 mm fovea-centred area. Perfusion area and vessel length densities were analysed relative to axial eye length and retinal thickness. A significant inverse association was found between axial length and vascular density measures (perfusion area density r2 = 0.186, p < 0.001; and vessel length density r2 = 0.102, p = 0.001). Perfusion area and vessel length densities were reduced by 5.8% (p = 0.001) in the longest, relative to the shortest, eyes. The aggregated ganglion cell layer inner plexiform layer thickness was also inversely associated with eye size (r2 = 0.083, p = 0.003), and reduced, by 8.1% (p < 0.001), in the longest eyes. An inverse association of eye size and superficial retinal vasculature density, that is not simply explained by retinal expansion or image magnification factors, was confirmed. These data support the hypothesis that ongoing metabolic challenges may underlie the development of myopia-related and -associated pathology in larger eyes.
- refractive error
- eye size
- optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA)
- retinal perfusion
- vascular perfusion