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In vivo assessment of associations between photoreceptors structure and macular perfusion in type 1 diabetes


Purpose To explore the potential relationships between macular vascular network and different adaptive optics (AO) metrics in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM1) with no signs (NoDR) or mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR).

Design Observational cross-sectional study.

Methods Forty eyes of consecutive patients with DM1 (12 NoDR and 28 NPDR) and 10 healthy age-matched control subjects were included. All patients and controls were imaged using AO retinal camera and PLEX Elite 9000 optical coherence tomography (OCT) angiography (OCTA). The AO outcome measures to evaluate the cone photoreceptor mosaic characteristics were as follows: (1) Cone density (CD); (2) Linear Dispersion Index (LDi) and (3) Heterogeneity Packing Index (HPi). The OCTA outcome measures included: (1) superficial capillary plexus (SCP) perfusion density (PD); (2) deep capillary plexus (DCP) PD and (3) the choriocapillaris (CC) flow deficit percentage (FD%).

Results NPDR group exhibited a close relationship between cone metrics and CC FD. Notably, CC FD% increase along with LDi (p=0.035), while the increasing CC FD% were associated with reducing CD (p=0.042) and the HPi (p=0.017). Furthermore, the OCTA parameters, including PD SCP and DCP, showed a significant negative correlation with CD.

Conclusions Our results demonstrated the relationship between macular perfusion at both retinal and choroidal levels and the cone mosaic in patients with DM1 interpolating swept-source-OCTA and AO metrics. In NPDR eyes, the photoreceptor damage was accompanied by CC insufficiency since the early stages of the disease.

  • Choroid
  • Imaging
  • Macula
  • Retina

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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