Abstract

In this study, we explored inter-ocular asymmetry (between the two eyes of the same patient) using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) in patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) at different retinopathy stages. A total of 258 patients were divided into four groups: no DM, DM without diabetic retinopathy (DR), non-proliferative DR (NPDR), and proliferative DR (PDR). Superficial and deep vessel density (SVD, DVD), superficial and deep perfusion density (SPD, DPD), foveal avascular zone (FAZ) area, perimeter and circularity were calculated, and asymmetry index (AI) was used to evaluate the asymmetry of two eyes of the same subject. AIs of SPD, SVD, FAZ area and FAZ perimeter in the PDR group were larger than all other 3 groups (all p < 0.05). The AIs of DPD, DVD, FAZ area and FAZ perimeter in males were larger than in females (p = 0.015, p = 0.023, p = 0.006 and p = 0.017). Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) was positively correlated with AI of FAZ perimeter (p = 0.02) and circularity (p = 0.022). In conclusion, PDR patients’ eyes were significantly asymmetric in both vascular density and FAZ metrics. Male sex and HbA1c are risk factors that influenced symmetry. This study highlights that right-left asymmetry should be taken into account in DR-related studies, particularly those analyzing microvascular changes with OCTA.

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