Embryologically, the retina and the optic nerve head can be considered as an »external« part of the brain. Not only from the perspective of the optic nerves, but also with regard to microcirculation, there are many similarities and close connections to the brain. Studies that link vascular condition and autoregulatory functions of the retina with depression, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and stroke are not surprising for this precise reason.
The parameters of static and dynamic vessel analysis allow conclusions regarding the cerebrovascular risk, such as the risk of stroke and the severity of so-called »small vessel diseases«, to be drawn.
Changes in parameters of retinal vessel analysis are associated with the frequency of white matter lesions on MRI scans and with the severity of dementia-related illnesses. There are indications to suggest that a subtyping between microvascular and macrovascular strokes can be made using parameters of retinal vessel analysis.
Dynamic vessel analysis not only allows the study of nitric oxide-dependent endothelial function but also the study of neurovascular coupling, myogenic autoregulation and their changes in various systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and arterial hypertension. Important information on the physiology and pathophysiology of the brain can also be obtained.