Nailfold Capillary Hemorrhages: Microvascular Risk Factors for Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

Nicholas M. Pfahler, Jordan L. Barry, Indre E. Bielskus, Agni Kakouri, Agni Kakouri, Michael C. Giovingo, Nicholas J. Volpe, Paul A. Knepper, Paul A. Knepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is associated with systemic microvascular dysfunction including hemorrhages and other abnormalities of the nailfold capillary bed. This study aimed to verify the specificity of nailfold capillary hemorrhages and other abnormalities as risk factors for POAG. Methods. Nailfold video capillaroscopy was performed using a JH-1004 capillaroscope on the fourth and fifth digits of the nondominant hand in control (n = 277), POAG (n = 206), OHT (n = 57), and SG (n = 29) subjects. The number of hemorrhages, dilated capillaries >50 μm, and avascular zones ≥200 μm were counted and adjusted to counts per 100 capillaries. Descriptive analyses as well as univariate- and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression were performed comparing all groups with controls and POAG with OHT and SG. Subanalyses were conducted in POAG patients examining the association between nailfold capillary outcomes and previous glaucoma surgery, successful IOP control, or disease severity. Results. All nailfold capillary outcomes were significantly increased in POAG, no outcomes were increased in SG, and only hemorrhages were mildly increased in OHT. Hemorrhages were significantly more frequent in POAG compared with both OHT (P<0.0001) and SG (P=0.001). There were significant trends between higher numbers of hemorrhages and POAG compared with controls, OHT, and SG, with odds ratios of 18.3 (8.5-39.4), 9.1 (1.9-13.4), and 11.8 (1.7-7.3), respectively, for the presence of two or more hemorrhages per 100 capillaries. Hemorrhages were not significantly associated with previous glaucoma surgery, successful postoperative IOP control, or disease severity in POAG. Conclusions. These findings suggest that systemic microvascular dysfunction is frequent in POAG and occurs early in the disease process. The high specificity of nailfold hemorrhages makes them viable clinical risk factors for POAG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8324319
JournalJournal of Ophthalmology
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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