Foveal and peripapillary vascular decrement in migraine with aura demonstrated by optical coherence tomography angiography

Melinda Y Chang, Nopasak Phasukkijwatana, Sean Garrity, Stacy L. Pineles, Mansour Rahimi, David Sarraf, Mollie Johnston, Andrew Charles, Anthony C. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Migraine, particularly with aura, has been associated with ocular and systemic ischemic complications, but there are limited data on the ocular vasculature in migraine. We used optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) to assess perfusion of the macula and optic nerve in migraine patients, with (MA) and without (MO) aura, compared to healthy controls (HC). METHODS. We recruited 15 MA (mean age 42 years), 12 MO (mean age 46 years), and 22 HC (mean age 39 years) participants from neurology and neuro-ophthalmology clinics. Participants underwent optical coherence tomography and 3 × 3 mm OCTA of the macula and optic nerve. Foveal avascular zone area was automatically measured using AngioVue software, and vessel density was calculated as blood vessel length divided by scan area (mm-1) after skeletonization of OCTA images. RESULTS. On macular OCTA, MA participants had an enlarged foveal avascular zone area when compared with HC (0.300 ± 0.019 vs. 0.220 ± 0.066 mm2, P = 0.006). In addition, superficial foveal vessel density was decreased in MA participants when compared with MO participants (7.8 ± 0.31 vs. 9.3 ± 0.44, P = 0.04) and HC (7.8 ± 0.31 vs. 9.4 ± 0.21 mm-1, P = 0.002). On optic nerve OCTA, the MA participants had reduced superior peripapillary vessel density when compared with the MO participants (12.0 ± 0.45 vs. 14.0 ± 0.38 mm-1, P = 0.031) and HC (12.0 ± 0.45 vs. 14.1 ± 0.53 mm-1, P = 0.035). There were no significant differences between the MO and HC groups. CONCLUSIONS. Migraine with, but not without, aura was associated with foveal and peripapillary vascular decrements, which may possibly mediate increased risk of ocular and systemic vascular complications in these patients. OCTA could potentially be useful as a biomarker for migraine with aura.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5477-5484
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Migraine
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • OCT angiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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