Deep Capillary Geometric Perfusion Deficits on OCT Angiography Detect Clinically Referable Eyes with Diabetic Retinopathy

Peter L. Nesper, Janice X. Ong, Amani A. Fawzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the sensitivity (SN) and specificity (SP) of OCT angiography (OCTA) parameters for detecting clinically referable eyes with diabetic retinopathy (DR) in a cohort of patients with diabetes mellitus (DM). Design: Retrospective, cross-sectional study. Subjects: Patients with DM with various levels of DR. Methods: We measured vessel density, vessel length density (VLD), and geometric perfusion deficits (GPDs) in the full retina, superficial capillary plexus (SCP), and deep capillary plexus (DCP) on 3 × 3-mm OCTA images. Geometric perfusion deficit was recently described as retinal tissue located further than 30 μm from blood vessels, excluding the foveal avascular zone (FAZ). We modified the GPD metric by including the FAZ as an additional variable. Clinically referable eyes were defined as moderate nonproliferative DR (NPDR) or worse retinopathy, or diabetic macular edema (DME). One eye from each patient was selected for the analysis based on image quality. We used a binary logistic regression model to adjust for covariates. Main Outcome Measures: Sensitivity, SP, and area under the curve (AUC). Results: Seventy-one of 150 included eyes from 150 patients (52 with DM without DR, 27 with mild NPDR, 16 with moderate NPDR, 10 with severe NPDR, 30 with proliferative DR, and 15 with DME) had clinically referable DR. Geometric perfusion deficit metric that included the FAZ performed better than GPD in detecting referable DR in the SCP (P = 0.025) but not the DCP or full retina (P > 0.05 for both). Deep capillary plexus GPD had the largest AUC for detecting clinically referable eyes (AUC = 0.965, SN = 97.2%, SP = 84.8%), which was significantly larger than the AUC for vessel density of any layer (P < 0.05 for all) but not DCP VLD (P = 0.166). The cutoff value of 2.5% for DCP GPD resulted in a highly sensitive test for detecting clinically referable eyes without adjusting for covariates (AUC = 0.955, SN = 97.2%, SP = 79.7%). Conclusions: Vascular parameters in OCTA, especially in the DCP, have the potential to identify eyes that warrant further evaluation. Geometric perfusion deficits may better distinguish these clinically referable eyes with DR than standard vessel density parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1194-1205
Number of pages12
JournalOphthalmology Retina
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Deep capillary plexus
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • OCTA
  • Optical coherence tomography angiography
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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