Asteroid hyalosis is a degenerative condition of the eye involving small white opacities in the vitreous humor
Asteroid hyalosis has the striking clinical appearance of glistening, yellowish white, spherical bodies suspended throughout the vitreous.
Asteroid hyalosis is unilateral in over 75% of cases. It is common seen in 1 of 200 person
On examination, the asteroids appear as multiple, yellow-white, round, birefringent crystals floating in the vitreous space.
Asteroid hyalosis is a common degenerative process seen in elderly patients over 60 years of age (0.5% of the population) and in patients with diabetes mellitus (30% of diabetics). Most cases are unilateral (75%).
The prognosis is good and in general no treatment is recommended. In rare circumstances, a pars plana vitrectomy is performed if the asteroids become so severe that they affect vision or interfere with the diagnosis or treatment of retinal disorders.(ref 1)
Asteroid hyalosis causes
Doctors are not sure what causes asteroid hyalosis, but they know the risk increases as you age. It typically affects patients aged 55 and older, and men are twice as likely as women to develop the condition.
Some studies suggest a link between asteroid hyalosis and other health issues, such as:
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Higher body mass index
- High cholesterol
- History of gout
However, other studies have found no significant link between asteroid hyalosis and any of these risk factors. More research is needed on the cause of asteroid hyalosis.
Asteroid hyalosis Vs synchysis scintillans
Benson, in 1894, was the first to describe accurately and to differentiate AH from synchysis scintillans. Because the vitreous particles resembled “stars on a clear night” he termed the condition asteroid hyalitis, but Luxenberg and Sime later suggested the term “asteroid hyalosis” in view of the absence of inflammatory changes
Asteroid hyalosis (AH) is a degenerative eye condition marked by a buildup of calcium and lipids, or fats, in the fluid between your eye’s retina and lens, called the vitreous humor. It’s commonly confused with synchysis scintillans, which looks very similar.
However, synchysis scintillans refers to a buildup of cholesterol instead of calcium.
Ref 1:Essentials of Ophthalmology-Friedman.
ref 2: Ophthalmic Diagnosis & Treatment 3rd edition https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/416959