Purpose To identify objective optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) parameters that characterize the spectrum of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), especially those that distinguish moderate from severe NPDR. Methods Sixty eyes of 60 patients with treatment-naïve NPDR (mild: 21, moderate: 21, severe: 18), 23 eyes with diabetes and no retinopathy, and 24 healthy control eyes were enrolled. OCTA slabs were segmented into superficial (SCP), middle (MCP), and deep capillary plexus (DCP) and thresholded by a new method based on DCP skeletonized vessel length. The foveal avascular zone (FAZ) area, parafoveal vessel density (VD), and adjusted flow index (AFI) from all three capillary layers and the vessel length density (VLD) of the SCP were compared between each severity group, after adjusting for age and image quality. Results All vessel density markers decreased with increasing severity of NPDR. SCP VD and VLD demonstrated significant differences between eyes with diabetes with no retinopathy and mild NPDR (p = 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively), as well as between moderate vs. severe NPDR (p = 0.004 and p = 0.009, respectively). MCP VD significantly decreased between moderate and severe NPDR (p = 0.01). AFI significantly increased in the SCP and showed a decreasing trend in the MCP and DCP with increasing NPDR severity. Conclusions Changes in the SCP VD, SCP VLD, and MCP VD can distinguish severe NPDR from lowerrisk stages. SCP changes may be more reliable due to their lower susceptibility to noise and projection artifacts. Thresholding OCTA images based on DCP skeletonized vessel length showed less variability in moderate and severe NPDR. Additional studies are warranted to validate this new thresholding method.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)