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Am J Ophthalmol. 2001 Jul;132(1):70-5.

Asteroid hyalosis in a population: the Beaver Dam eye study.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-2397, USA.



To estimate the prevalence of asteroid hyalosis and to examine correlates of asteroid hyalosis in a population-based cohort.


The population of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, that was 43 to 86 years of age was examined from 1988 to 1990 (n = 4926). The population is predominantly white (99.4%) northern European. Asteroid hyalosis was determined from stereoscopic fundus photographs of three standard fields.


Fundus photographs were gradable in 4747 subjects. Asteroid hyalosis was present in 1.2% (95% confidence interval, 0.9,1.5%). In subjects in which it was present, asteroid hyalosis was bilateral in 9%. Prevalence increased significantly (P <.001) with age from 0.2% in subjects 43 to 54 years to 2.9% in subjects 75 to 86 years. After adjusting for age, men were more likely (1.8%) to have asteroid hyalosis than women (0.8%). After adjusting for age and sex, asteroid hyalosis was significantly more likely to be found in subjects with greater body mass (P =.02) and higher alcohol consumption (P =.03). There were nonsignificant trends with systolic blood pressure (P =.07), serum cholesterol (P =.09), and serum albumin (P =.09). It was not significantly associated (P >.05) with diastolic blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease history, high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, serum calcium, cigarette smoking, physical activity, intraocular pressure, or refractive error. These relationships were confirmed in a multivariable logistic model.


The current study documents the infrequency of asteroid hyalosis in the population as graded from three photographic fields of the fundus. It does not support previous observations of an association of asteroid hyalosis with diabetes or refractive error. The relevance of the new associations reported (body mass, alcohol) remains to be determined.

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