Retinal microvascular abnormalities have been associated with cognitive impairment, possibly serving as a marker of cerebral small vessel disease. This relationship has not been evaluated among persons with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition associated with increased risk of both retinal pathology and cognitive impairment.
Setting & Participants
588 participants ≥ 52 years old with CKD in the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study
Retinopathy graded using the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study severity scale and diameters of retinal vessels.
Neuropsychological battery of six cognitive tests
Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association of retinopathy, individual retinopathy features, and retinal vessel diameters with cognitive impairment (≤1 SD from the mean), and linear regression models were used to compare cognitive test scores across levels of retinopathy adjusting for age, race, sex, education, and medical comorbidities.
The mean age of the cohort was 65.3 +/− 5.6 (SD) years; 51.9% were non-White, and 52.6% were male. The prevalence of retinopathy was 30.1% and 14.3% for cognitive impairment. Compared to those without retinopathy, participants with retinopathy had increased likelihood of cognitive impairment on executive function (35.1% vs. 11.5%; OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 2.0-6.0), attention (26.7% vs. 7.3%; OR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.8-4.9), and naming (26.0% vs. 10.0%; OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.2-3.4) after multivariable adjustment. Increased level of retinopathy was also associated with lower cognitive performance on executive function and attention. Microaneurysms were associated with cognitive impairment on some domains, but there were no significant associations with other retinal measures after multivariable adjustment.
Unknown temporal relationship between retinopathy and impairment.
In adults with CKD, retinopathy is associated with poor performance on several cognitive domains including executive function and attention. Evaluation of retinal microvascular abnormalities may be a promising tool for identifying patients with CKD who are at increased risk of cognitive impairment.