Measurement of retinal vascular caliber: Issues and alternatives to using the arteriole to venule ratio

Gerald Liew, A. Richey Sharrett, Richard Kronmal, Ronald Klein, Yin Wong Tien, Paul Mitchell, Annette Kifley, Jin Wang Jie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. The arteriole to venule ratio (AVR) is widely used in studies of the associations of retinal microvascular disease with systemic and ocular outcomes. This is a discussion of the limitations of AVR; a comparison of its predictive information with that of its components, arteriolar and venular caliber; and a description of a suggested alternative method of modeling arteriolar and venular calibers directly. METHODS. Data from the population-based Blue Mountains Eye Study were used to compare the predictive information in models using AVR with models using arteriolar and venular calibers directly. Determination was made of how the apparent relationship between vessel caliber and two systemic outcomes (blood pressure [BP] and white blood cell count [WBC]) was influenced by the choice of regression model. These findings were interpreted with reference to the known biological relationship among vessel calibers, BP, and WBC. RESULTS. Models using arteriolar and venular calibers directly had more predictive information than models using AVR. The apparent relationship of vessel caliber to BP and WBC differed substantially, depending on the model chosen. For example, after adjustment for age, sex, and other covariates, decreasing venular caliber was associated with higher systolic BP when modeled separately, but was associated with lower systolic BP when modeled simultaneously with arteriolar caliber. CONCLUSIONS. The findings suggest AVR provides less information with regards to predicting systemic outcomes than its two components. Modeling arteriolar and venular calibers separately could be biased by confounding, while modeling both simultaneously appears to provide unbiased, biologically plausible results. The use of this approach is recommended in future research relating retinal vascular caliber to systemic or ocular outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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