Ageing and Vascular Health

The research interests of this group focus around ageing, vascular health and neurodegenerative disease. Previous and ongoing work has centred on exploring whether assessment of the easily accessible retinal microvasculature could provide a window into accelerated ageing, or an individual’s systemic vascular health and cardiovascular risk. We have access to lab space for blood analysis (e.g. oxidative stress), an advanced glycation end-product reader (AGE-reader) and a Dynamic Retinal Vessel Analyser (DVA) which allows assessment of dynamic retinal vessel function (endothelial function), static vessel calibre and retinal oximetry. We also have a Heidelberg Spectralis OCT and strong links with the Royal Eye Infirmary at Derriford Hospital

Main Research Themes

  • ? Healthy ageing
  • ? Accelerated ageing and advanced glycation end-products
  • ? Pathogenesis and early detection of neurodegenerative disease – including Glaucoma and Alzheimer's disease
  • ? Ocular biomarkers of systemic health
  • ? Retinal imaging for early detection of disease

Dynamic and Static retinal vessel function is assessed using the ‘Dynamic Retinal Vessel Analyser’ (DVA; Imedos, Jena). A section of the retinal artery and vein is selected from the live image produced by the DVA (image a). The response profiles of these retinal vessels to flicker light stimulation are then evaluated to determine the dynamic vessel function (image b and c).

Image d: by selecting sections of the retinal arteries and veins from within an outer annular ring (image d), which is superimposed onto the retinal image, equivalent diameters for the central retinal artery and central retinal vein can be determined and an objective arterio-venous ratio (AV ratio) calculated. This is done using an algorithm build into the VesselMap2 software. AV ratio is a measure commonly used to evaluate the health of the blood vessels in optometric practice but at present this is only done subjectively.

Key Publications: 

Seshadri, S., Mroczkowska, S., Qin, L., Patel, S., Ekart, A., & Gherghel, D. (2015). Systemic circulatory influences on retinal microvascular function in middle‐age individuals with low to moderate cardiovascular risk. Acta ophthalmologica, 93(4), e266-e274.
Qin, L., Mroczkowska, S. A., Ekart, A., Patel, S. R., Gibson, J. M., & Gherghel, D. (2014). Patients with early age-related macular degeneration exhibit signs of macro-and micro-vascular disease and abnormal blood glutathione levels. Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, 252(1), 23-30.

Gherghel, D., Mroczkowska, S., & Qin, L. (2013). Reduction in blood glutathione levels occurs similarly in patients with primary-open angle or normal tension glaucoma. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 54(5), 3333-3339.

Mroczkowska, S., Benavente-Pérez, A., Patel, S., Qin, L., Bentham, P., & Gherghel, D. (2014). Retinal vascular dysfunction relates to cognitive impairment in Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders, 28(4), 366-367.

Mroczkowska, S., Ekart, A., Sung, V., Negi, A., Qin, L., Patel, S. R., & Gherghel, D. (2012). Coexistence of macro‐and micro‐vascular abnormalities in newly diagnosed normal tension glaucoma patients. Acta ophthalmologica, 90(7), e553-e559.