Body mass index, blood pressure, and physical activity all affect retinal vessel diameters, authors of the meta-analysis found.
The findings raise the possibility that, one day, clinicians could help “substantially counteract” the increasing burden of adult cardiovascular disease by diagnosing retinal microvascular impairments early in life, according to investigator Sabrina Köchli, MSc, and her colleagues with the department of sport, exercise, and health at the University of Basel (Switzerland).
“Regular retinal vessel screening may have the potential to be implemented in future medical examination programs to optimize therapy guidance in children and adolescents,” Ms. Köchli and her colleagues wrote in the journal Pediatrics.
The meta-analysis by Ms. Köchli and her coauthors included 11 studies looking at the association between BMI, blood pressure, or physical activity in children.
They found that higher BMI was associated with narrower retinal arteriolar diameters and wider venular diameters in 8 studies including a total of 5,003 participants. The pooled estimate effect size was –0.37 for the association between BMI and retinal arteriolar diameters and 0.35 for the association between BMI and retinal venular diameters, data showed.
Higher blood pressure likewise was associated with narrower retinal arteriolar diameters in 6 studies including 7,687 participants, with a pooled estimate of –0.63 for systolic blood pressure and –0.60 for diastolic blood pressure.