Asteroid hyalosis

Last revised by Yusra Sheikh on 14 Dec 2023

Asteroid hyalosis is a degenerative condition of the eye where there is an accumulation of calcium soaps in the vitreous chamber.

The prevalence increases with age from 0.2% in 43-54 year-olds to 2.9% in 75-86 year-olds. The overall prevalence is 1.2%. It is commonly unilateral and favors men over women.

It does not usually affect vision but floating opacities may cause irritation and may be confused with more common vitreous hemorrhage. It interferes with retinal examination.

The accumulated spherical opacities called asteroid bodies are made up of lipid components and calcium salt in the form of calcium phosphate apatite bound to fatty acid carboxylate groups.

It appears as discrete, mobile, highly echogenic, spherical or star-shaped opacities in the vitreous chamber without any posterior acoustic shadowing. Sonographic examination during eye movements, also known as oculokinetic ultrasonography, accentuates the mobile and "sparkling" nature of these opacities, allowing differentiation from vitreous hemorrhage 4.

Asteroid hyalosis is a benign condition and usually, no treatment is necessary. Vitrectomy may be indicated when it is associated with other vitreous or retinal pathologies such as proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

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