Prevalence and risk factors of retinal arteriolar emboli: the Singapore Malay Eye Study

Am J Ophthalmol. 2008 Oct;146(4):620-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2008.05.033. Epub 2008 Jul 21.


Purpose: To examine the prevalence and risk factors of retinal arteriolar emboli, a risk predictor of stroke, in an Asian population.

Design: Population-based cross-sectional study.

Methods: Retinal emboli were ascertained from retinal photographs obtained from both eyes of 3,265 Asian Malays, aged 40 to 80 years, according to a standardized protocol. Risk factors were assessed from detailed standardized interviews, clinical examinations, and laboratory investigations.

Results: The overall prevalence of retinal emboli was 0.6% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.58 to 0.62). A finding of retinal emboli was strongly associated with increasing age (P = .005, for trend), but age-stratified prevalence rates were still lower than those reported from previous population-based studies of White persons. After adjusting for age and gender, the presence of retinal emboli was associated with cigarette smoking (odds ratio [OR], 5.96; 95% CI, 1.75 to 20.32), elevated total cholesterol (OR, 5.21; 95% CI, 1.93 to 12.82), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (OR, 2.98; 95% CI, 1.20 to 7.39), and self-reported history of angina (OR, 5.67; 95% CI, 1.62 to 19.91). These associations remained significant in multivariate analysis with additional adjustment for other risk factors.

Conclusions: Retinal emboli are less common in Asians than in similarly aged White persons, but are associated with similar cardiovascular risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angina Pectoris / ethnology
  • Arterioles
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Embolism / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / ethnology
  • Malaysia / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retinal Artery*
  • Retinal Diseases / ethnology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Singapore / ethnology
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Stroke / ethnology


  • Cholesterol, LDL