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Original article
Abnormal retinal vascular function and lipid levels in a sample of healthy UK South Asians
  1. S R Patel1,
  2. S Bellary1,3,
  3. L Qin1,
  4. P S Gill2,
  5. S Taheri3,
  6. R Heitmar1,
  7. J M Gibson1,
  8. D Gherghel1
  1. 1Vascular Research Laboratory, Ophthalmic Research Group, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2Primary Care Clinical Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  3. 3MIDRU, Heart of England NHS Trust and University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Doina Gherghel, Ophthalmic Research Group, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK; d.gherghel{at}


Background/aims To investigate ethnic differences in retinal vascular function and their relationship to traditional risk indicators for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods A total of 90 normoglycaemic subjects (45 South Asian (SA) and 45 age- and gender-matched white Europeans (WEs)) were recruited for the present study. Retinal vessel reactivity to flickering light was assessed by means of the dynamic retinal vessel analyser according to a modified protocol. Fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides (TG), total, LDL and HDL cholesterol were also measured in all individuals.

Results SA individuals showed higher fasting triglyceride (p=0.001) and lower HDL levels (p=0.007), leading to a higher TG:HDL-C ratio (p=0.001) than age-matched WE subjects. Additionally, in SAs, the retinal arterial reaction time in response to flicker stimulation was significantly longer in the last flicker cycle than in the WEs (p=0.039), and this change correlated positively with measured plasma TG levels (r=0.60; p=0.01). No such relationship was observed in the WEs (p>0.05).

Conclusion Even in the absence of overt vascular disease, in otherwise healthy SAs there are potential signs of retinal vascular function impairment that correlates with established plasma markers for CVD risk.

  • South Asians
  • retinal vessel analysis
  • cardiovascular risk
  • Diabete risk
  • retina
  • biochemistry
  • diagnostic tests/investigation

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Aston University Ethics Committee and NHS COREC.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.