Purpose: Our aim was to correlate cardiovascular risk factor estimation with bulbar conjunctival blood flow metrics as measured through Functional Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy (FSLB). Methods: Cross-sectional study of individuals with otherwise healthy eyelid and corneal anatomy recruited from the Miami Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System eye clinic. We measured conjunctival microvascular hemodynamics by mounting a camera on a slit lamp and cardiovascular risk using the Framingham risk score. Our main outcome measures were correlations between conjunctival vessel parameters (axial and cross-sectional blood flow velocity, blood flow rate) and Framingham score. Results: We included 84 patients who underwent FSLB. The mean age was 60 years, the majority were male (88%) and approximately half the patients were black (54%). Mean vessel diameter was similar between all Framingham score categories. Axial and cross-sectional blood flow velocities and blood flow rate were lower in individuals with higher Framingham risk score. Specifically, mean cross-sectional blood flow velocity in individuals with a low Framingham risk score was 0.37 ± 0.0.9 mm/s, with an intermediate score was 0.30 ± 0.09 mm/s, and with a high score was 0.29 ± 0.10 mm/s, p = 0.04. Mean blood flow rate in individuals with a low Framingham risk score was 133.4 ± 59.6 pl/s, with an intermediate score was 123.6 ± 39.3 pl/s, and with a high score was 121.9 ± 52.6 pl/s, p = 0.04. The beta coefficient of the blood flow rate for change in Framingham score was −0.73; 95% CI-1.34–0.13, p = 0.02, adjusted for race. Conclusion: FSLB correlates with cardiovascular risk estimation. Future studies should evaluate if FSLB can predict cardiovascular outcomes.
- Cardiovascular risk estimation
- Conjunctival blood vessels
- Functional slit lamp imaging
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