Purpose: To investigate whether cocaine use is associated with early retinal vascular abnormalities. Design: Population-based cross-sectional study. Methods: settings: Inner-city neighborhoods in Baltimore, Maryland. study population: Sixty-eight participants were recruited from an ongoing observational study, investigating cardiovascular complications of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and cocaine use in African Americans aged between 25 and 54 years. Those with hypertension and known cardiovascular/cerebrovascular diseases were excluded. observation procedures: Ophthalmoscopic examinations and fundus photography of the retinas of these subjects were performed after pupillary dilation. The largest angle of arterial bifurcation (LAAB), central retinal artery equivalent (CRAE), and central retinal vein equivalent (CRVE) were measured by single-masked fundus image examiners. main outcome measures: LAAB, CRAE, and CRVE. Results: Among the 68 study subjects, 52 (76.5%) were chronic cocaine users and 16 (23.5%) were non-cocaine users. Univariate and multivariate analyses indicated that the LAAB was associated with age and duration of cocaine use of more than 10 years. The LAAB was also inversely associated with very low-density lipoproteins levels. Multivariate analysis indicated a positive association between CRVE and cocaine use. CRAE was also associated with intravenous injection. We confirmed that CRAE was inversely associated with age. HIV infection was not found to be associated with any retinal vascular parameters. Conclusions: Cocaine use is associated with increased retinal arterial branching angle and venular caliber. The retinal vascular changes provided the first evidence that cocaine use has an effect on the retinal vascular system.
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