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Eye (Lond). 2005 Apr;19(4):396-9.

The prevalence and associated features of posterior embryotoxon in the general ophthalmic clinic.

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Department of Ophthalmology, West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 2QZ, UK.



To estimate the prevalence of posterior embryotoxon (PE) in the general ophthalmic clinic and to identify any features of PE that suggest that it is pathological rather than physiological.


Over 700 consecutive patients of all ages were examined with the slit lamp during their routine eye clinic appointment. Patients with posterior embryotoxon were invited to return for full ocular examination including keratometry, corneal topography, and gonioscopy.


In all, 49 out of 723 patients were found to have PE. This gives a prevalence of 6.8% with an age range of 18 months to 95 years. There was a higher prevalence in the younger age group of 22.5% (age range 18 months to 20 years) compared to 5.9% in the older age range (21-95 years). A total of 29 patients with PE returned for further examination. Six patients had glaucoma (two with Axenfeld's syndrome and one with aniridia), and one had ocular hypertension. In all, 20 patients had bilateral PE on slit-lamp examination, which increased to 24 with gonioscopy. The majority of the PE was seen temporally (97.9%) and limited to a few clock hours. Gonioscopy showed that eight patients with PE had associated inferior pigmentation of schwalbes line.


This large series found the prevalence of PE the general ophthalmic clinic to be 6.8%. Its presence should prompt careful anterior segment examination, including gonioscopy, to identify any associated abnormalities that may carry a risk of glaucoma. Children should also be assessed for any associated systemic or genetic abnormality.

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