Correlation analysis of physical fitness and retinal microvasculature by OCT angiography in healthy adults
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A) represents the most recent modality in retinal imaging for non-invasive and depth-selective visualization of blood flow in retinal vessels. With regard to quantitative OCTA measurements for early detection of subclinical alterations, it is of great interest, which intra- and extra-ocular factors affect the results of OCTA measurements. Here, we performed OCTA imaging of the central retina in 65 eyes of 65 young healthy female and male participants and evaluated individual physical fitness levels by standard lactate diagnostic using an incremental maximal performance running test. The main finding was that OCTA measurements of the foveal avascular zone (FAZ) area were associated with physical fitness. Using multivariate regression analysis, we found that running speed at the individual lactate threshold, a marker strongly associated with aerobic performance capacity, significantly contributed to differences in FAZ area (β = 0.111, p = 0.032). The data indicates that smaller FAZ areas are likely observed in individuals with higher aerobic exercise capacity. Our findings are also of interest with respect to the potential use of retinal OCTA imaging to detect exercise-induced microvascular adaptations in future studies.