The aim of this study is to evaluate the retinal microvascular density in SLE patients using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) and to correlate vascular density with the disease activity and damage risk.
Twenty eyes of 20 SLE patients were compared with 20 eyes of normal subjects. The retinal capillary plexuses were examined by OCTA. The disease activity and damage risk were evaluated by the SLEDAI-2 K and SLICC/ACR SDI scoring systems.
No difference was found between SLE patients’ central foveal thickness (CFT) and foveal avascular zone (FAZ) area and the normal (P > 0.05). SLE patients had slightly lower superficial vessel densities than normal in the upper and lower macular regions (P < 0.05), sparing the middle sectors (P > 0.05). In the deep plexus, vessel density loss was detected in all sectors (P < 0.001). The vessel density in 300-μm-wide region around the FAZ (FD-300) and the acircularity index (AI) were affected in the SLE in comparison to the normal group (P < 0.05). No significant correlation was found between the SLEDAI-2 k and the retinal vessel density in either layer, while the SLICC/SDI had moderate inverse correlation with vessel density in some sectors (P < 0.05). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis showed that the deep capillary plexus had high sensitivity and specificity for detecting vascular damage in SLE patients.
OCTA permits noninvasive quantitative assessment of retinal vessel density in SLE, allowing early detection of altered retinal circulation. Vessel density could be included in future assessment of SLE activity and damage scores.