Age-related alterations in the retinal microvasculature, microcirculation, and microstructure

Yantao Wei, Hong Jiang, Yingying Shi, Dongyi Qu, Giovanni Gregori, Fang Zheng, Tatjana Rundek, Jianhua Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To characterize age-related alterations in the retinal microcirculation, microvascular network, and microstructure in healthy subjects. METHODS. Seventy-four healthy subjects aged from 18 to 82 years were recruited and divided into four age groups (G1 with age <35 years, G2 with age 35 ~ 49 years, G3 with age 50 ~ 64 years, and G4 with age ≥65 years). Custom ultra-high resolution optical coherence tomography (UHR-OCT) was used to acquire six intraretinal layers of the macula. OCT angiography (OCTA) was used to image the retinal microvascular network. The retinal blood flow velocity (BFV) was measured using a Retinal Function Imager (RFI). RESULTS. Compared to G1, G2 had significant thinning of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) (P < 0.05), while G3 had thinning of the RNFL and ganglion cell and inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) (P < 0.05), in addition to thickening of the outer plexiform layer (OPL) and photoreceptor layer (PR) (P < 0.05). G4 had loss in retinal vessel density, thinning in RNFL and GCIPL, and decrease in venular BFV, in addition to thickening of the OPL and PR (P < 0.05). Age was negatively related to retinal vessel densities, the inner retinal layers, and venular BFV (P < 0.05). By contrast, age was positively related to OPL and PR (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS. During aging, decreases in retinal vessel density, inner retinal layer thickness, and venular BFV were evident and impacted each other as observed by simultaneous changes in multiple retinal components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3804-3817
Number of pages14
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Age
  • Microcirculation
  • Microstructure
  • Microvasculature
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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