Background and Purpose: Asymptomatic retinal cholesterol emboli are sometimes encountered on ophthalmoscopic examination. They are associated with decreased survival, but their clinical significance is not fully known. We sought to determine which vascular risk factors are associated with such emboli. Methods: We studied 70 consecutive men (55–84 years old) with asymptomatic retinal cholesterol emboli diagnosed in an eye clinic Twenty-one men (57–78 years old) from the same eye clinic without retinal emboli or retinal ischemic events were randomly selected as control subjects. We determined vascular risk factors, presence of ischemic heart disease, and extracranial carotid artery disease. Results: Patients had a higher prevalence of hypertension, smoked more, and had a higher prevalence of heterogeneous or echolucent carotid plaques on either side than did control subjects (p <0.001 for all three factors). Patients also had a higher prevalence of carotid artery stenosis ≥ 50% on either side and a higher prevalence of ischemic heart disease than did control subjects, but these did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.06and p = 0.08, respectively). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that hypertension and cigarette smoking may be important in the pathogenesis of asymptomatic retinal cholesterol emboli and that these emboli indicate systemic atherosclerosis rather than ipsilateral carotid artery stenosis.
- Risk factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Advanced and Specialized Nursing