Researchers in China used a serum concentration of high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) as a surrogate to measure the level of systemic inflammation and investigated whether its levels were associated with the occurrence of eye diseases. They only found a significant association with diabetic retinopathy (DR) and polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy.

The study analyzed data from the Beijing Eye Study of 2,452 patients with measurements of hs-CRP available. Along with the two eye diseases, higher serum concentration of hs-CRP was associated with higher body mass index, lower cognitive function score and lower level of education. The researchers found no significant association between serum concentration and other ocular diseases, such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) including geographic atrophy, and nuclear, cortical or subcapsular cataract—highlighting that there was no associated major inflammatory component to the disease in them.

The team did note that while the association they found in DR and polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy was significant, the standardized regression coefficients were relatively lower as well as the number of patients with polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy. Therefore, one must take into account these relative weaknesses in the statistical evaluation when discussing the clinical meaning of the findings.

Jonas JB, Wei WB, Xu L, Wang YX. Systemic inflammation and eye diseases. The Beijing Eye Study. PLoS ONE. October 3, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].