With normal retinal blood flow, cross-sectional optical coherence tomography (OCT) of retinal vessels shows a structured intravascular reflectivity profile, resembling a 'figure-of-8'. Altered profiles have been reported in vascular occlusive and haematological diseases. Giant cell arteritis (GCA) can cause visual loss, usually due to anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy (AION) or retinal artery occlusion. Our aim was to extend the assessment of OCT vascular profiles to patients with suspected GCA and to determine if any abnormalities were related to GCA per se or to ischaemic ocular conditions. This nested retrospective study included 61 eyes of 31 patients (13 with GCA). Six eyes had arteritic and seven eyes non-arteritic AION, three eyes had non-arteritic retinal artery occlusion, 11 eyes had other ocular conditions and 34 were unaffected control eyes. For each eye the appearance of structured intravascular profiles on peripapillary OCT was graded as present, partial, absent or uncertain. Non-presence of structured intravascular profiles was more frequent in AION and retinal artery occlusion than in other ocular conditions or unaffected eyes (Fisher's test, p = .0047). Based on follow-up of 25 eyes, reflectivity profiles normalised in three out of four eyes after 85 (35-245) days. Vessel profiles were not associated with GCA (p = .32) and were similar in arteritic and non-arteritic AION (p = .66). In conclusion, absence of structured intravascular reflectivity profiles may be a marker of acute ischaemia in the anterior optic nerve or inner retina. However, it did not seem specific for GCA. The prognostic value warrants further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)383-389
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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