Deep capillary macular perfusion indices obtained with OCT angiography correlate with degree of nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy



To evaluate the integrity of macular and temporomacular vasculature in nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) with noninvasive optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) and correlate perfusion indices with degree of NPDR.


In this prospective observational cross-sectional study, 102 eyes with newly diagnosed NPDR (mild NPDR, 36; moderate NPDR, 21; severe NPDR, 13; NPDR with diabetic macular edema [DME], 32) underwent OCTA. Sixty eyes of normal subjects served as control. Degree of NPDR (based on Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study criteria) was confirmed with fluorescein angiography. Automated OCTA/split-spectrum amplitude decorrelation angiography software generated perfusion indices (vessel density and flow index) from images of the retina. The perfusion index of superficial and deep retinal plexuses was obtained in both perifoveal (central 1-3 mm) and parafoveal (3-6 mm) areas.


Deep plexus parafoveal vessel density was 25.23% (±6.1) in mild NPDR, 20.16% (±6.16) in moderate NPDR, 11.16% (±4.16) in severe NPDR, and 17.91% (±4.42) in NPDR + DME compared to normal subjects (36.93% [±8.1]; (p<0.01). Spearman correlation coefficient (rs) between vessel density and level of NPDR severity in the parafoveal region showed inverse correlation for both superficial (rs -0.87; p = 0.083) and deep (rs -0.96; p = 0.017) plexus. Similarly, when vessel density of the perifoveal region was compared with level of NPDR severity, inverse correlation was noted in both superficial (rs -0.85; p = 0.08) and deep (rs -0.98; p = 0.011) plexus.


Optical coherence tomography angiography clearly delineated the retinal microcirculation and allowed quantification of vascular perfusion of each layer. As diabetic retinopathy progressed, a decrease in perfusion index is more pronounced in the deep retinal plexus and precedes changes in superficial plexus.

Eur J Ophthalmol 2017; 27(6): 716 - 729




Kumar Sambhav, Khaled K. Abu-Amero, Kakarla V. Chalam

Article History


Financial support: No financial support was received for this submission.
Conflict of interest: None of the authors has conflict of interest with this submission.
Meeting presentation: Presented at ASRS 2015, Vienna.

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  • Department of Ophthalmology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville, Florida - USA

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