Background: While aging clearly has protean biological effects on every organ system, the differential effects of aging in women and men in the retrobulbar vasculature, to our knowledge, have never been investigated. Because glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are closely linked to advanced age, we performed a cross-sectional study using color Doppler imaging of 4 retrobulbar vessels in both healthy women and men. Objective: To define the influence of aging per se on ocular hemodynamics. Methods: Women (n=73) and men (n=55), aged from 20 to 90 years, free of ocular and systemic disease, and with normal intraocular pressure, were recruited for this study. Postmenopausal women who were not receiving estrogen replacement therapy were also recruited. Studies involved color Doppler imaging analysis of the ophthalmic, central retinal, and nasal and temporal posterior ciliary arteries. Ophthalmic arterial peak systolic and end-diastolic velocities and a Pourcelot resistance index were determined for each vessel. Results: In both sexes, ophthalmic arterial enddiastolic velocity decreased and the Pourcelot resistance index rose with advancing age (each P<.001); peak systolic velocity in the ophthalmic vessel was age-independent. In contrast, central retinal arterial flow velocities were unaffected by age in both sexes. In the posterior ciliary arteries, in men, flow velocities and the Pourcelot resistance index were independent of age. However, in women, end-diastolic velocity decreased with age in both the nasal and temporal posterior ciliary vessel (each P<.05); peak systolic velocity was constant; the Pourcelot resistance index in each ciliary artery rose with advancing age (each P<.05). Conclusion: In healthy women and men, aging-induced changes in retrobulbar hemodynamics are comparable to alterations seen in patients with glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration, suggesting that vascular changes with senescence may contribute to increased risk for these diseases in older age.
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