Prevalence and Associations of Retinal Emboli With Ethnicity, Stroke, and Renal Disease in a Multiethnic Asian Population: The Singapore Epidemiology of Eye Disease Study

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Abstract

Importance

To our knowledge, population-based data on retinal emboli are limited in Asia. Besides its associations with traditional cardiovascular risk factors and stroke, associations between retinal emboli and renal disease and function remain unclear.

Objective

To examine the prevalence of and risk factors for retinal emboli in a large, contemporary, multiethnic Asian population.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This population-based cross-sectional study was conducted from 2004 to 2011 and included a total of 10 033 Chinese, Malay, and Indian persons aged 40 to 80 years residing in the general communities of Singapore. Analyses were performed from November 2016 to February 2017.

Interventions or Exposures

Retinal emboli were ascertained from retinal photographs obtained from both eyes of all participants according to a standardized protocol. Age-standardized prevalence of retinal emboli was calculated using the 2010 Singapore adult population. Risk factors were assessed from comprehensive systemic and ophthalmic examinations, interviews, and laboratory investigations.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Retinal emboli.

Results

Of the 10 033 participants, 9978 (99.5%) had gradable retinal photographs. Of these, 5057 (50.7%) were female, and 3375 (33.8%) were Indian. We identified 88 individuals (0.9%) with retinal emboli; the overall person-specific, age-standardized prevalence of retinal emboli was 0.75% (95% CI, 0.60-0.95), with the highest prevalence seen in the Indian cohort (0.98%), followed by the Chinese (0.73%) and Malay (0.44%) cohorts (P = .03). In multivariable-adjusted analysis, factors associated with prevalent retinal emboli included older age (per 5-year increase; odds ratio [OR], 1.22; 95% CI, 1.05-1.41), Indian ethnicity (compared with Malay ethnicity; OR, 3.58; 95% CI, 1.95-6.60), hypertension (OR, 1.95; 95% CI, 1.03-3.70), chronic kidney disease (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.15-3.64), creatinine level (per SD increase; OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.05-1.21), glomerular filtration rate (per SD increase; OR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.51-0.86), and history of stroke (OR, 3.45; 95% CI, 1.70-6.99).

Conclusions and Relevance

Based on 88 individuals among 9978 participants of 3 major Asian ethnic populations, retinal emboli were most commonly seen in Indian persons and associated with conventional cardiovascular risk factors, stroke, and chronic kidney disease. Therefore, its presence may signal vascular embolic event and damage not only in the brain but also in the kidneys. If these data are confirmed in longitudinal studies, they would suggest that persons with retinal emboli may require both general cardiovascular and renal assessment.

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