Purpose: To assess the prevalence of vascular risk factors and thrombophilias in central and branch retinal artery occlusion in patients in whom an embolic source is not apparent.
Methods: The study group consisted of 21 consecutive patients with retinal artery occlusion (RAO) in whom Doppler ultrasonography of the carotid arteries and transthoracic or transoesophageal echocardiography were normal. Laboratory methods included polymerase chain reaction for detection of factor V G1691A, factor II G20210A and methylentetrahydrofolate reductase C677T mutations, assays of plasma levels of protein C, free protein S, antithrombin, fibrinogen and homocysteine; and tests for the presence of lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies. Controls for the laboratory tests were 243 healthy subjects.
Results: Nine of the 21 (43%) patients had at least one thrombophilic marker: 4 were homozygous for MTHFR C677T, 1 was heterozygous for factor V G1691A, 1 had a high titre of IgM anticardiolipin, 2 were heterozygous for factor V G1691A and homozygous for MTHFR C677T, and 1 had lupus anticoagulant, a high titre of IgM anticardiolipin, homozygosity for MTHFR C677T and hyperhomocysteinaemia. An interaction between vascular risk factors and thrombophilias seemed important since out of 14 patients with hypertension, diabetes and/or hypercholesterolaemia 7 (50%) had a thrombophilia. Homozygous MTHFR C677T was a significant risk factor with odds ratio of 3.18 (95% CI 1.20-8.47). The prevalence of factor V G1691A was also higher in the RAO patients versus controls with an odds ratio of 2.36 (95% CI 0.63-8.88), but this value did not reach significance, probably due to the small sample size.
Conclusion: A search for thrombophilia in RAO is advisable in patients without evident source of emboli even when vascular risk factors are identified.