The study aimed to evaluate the quantitative characteristics of the macular vessel density (VD) and foveal avascular zone (FAZ) in glaucoma using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A).
Fifty-two eyes of 52 patients with primary open angle glaucoma and 52 eyes from 52 healthy participants were recruited retrospectively. OCT-A was performed on a 3 x 3-mm macular region centered on the fovea. OCT-A scans were manually graded to define the FAZ. Parafoveal VD in superficial and deep retina were analyzed in the circular- and quadrant-segmented zone. The FAZ parameters included size, perimeter, and circularity index. The regression analysis among VD and FAZ-related parameters and ocular parameters was performed, and the diagnostic ability was calculated with refractive error adjusted.
For both groups, the mean age and the sex ratio was not different between groups. With refractive error adjusted, the average macular VD was lower in glaucoma than in the control group for superficial (P = 0.013), deep (P<0.001), and the whole retina (P = 0.002). There were increased FAZ perimeter and decreased FAZ circularity index in glaucoma when compared with controls (P<0.001). In the multivariate regression models, FAZ circularity index were significantly associated with decreased peripapillary RNFL thickness (P = 0.007) and macular GCIPL thickness (P = 0.009) measured by OCT. The refractive-error adjusted area under receiver operating characteristics was highest for FAZ circularity index (0.905; 95% CI, 0.844–0.966), followed by temporal deep retinal VD (0.870; 95% CI, 0.803–0.937) and FAZ perimeter (0.858; 95% CI, 0.784–0.932).
Decreased macular VD, increased FAZ perimeter, and decreased FAZ circularity index were observed in eyes with glaucoma using OCT-A. With refractive error adjusted, these parameters showed considerable diagnostic value for glaucoma. FAZ circularity index may be a novel biomarker representing disruption of the parafoveal capillary network in glaucoma, as supported by its association with structural parameters.