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Idiopathic anterior hyaloid vessels
  1. J G F Dowler,
  2. J S Mehta,
  3. A M Landers,
  4. A M P Hamilton
  1. Medical Retinal Service, Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road, London EC1V 2PD, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Mr J S Mehta; jodmehta{at}

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Anterior hyaloidal fibrovascular proliferation (AHFP), the growth of vessels across the anterior hyaloid face from an origin in anterior retina,1 was first described in phakic eyes after diabetic vitrectomy surgery,2 but is also reported following cataract surgery in diabetics.3 Complications include cataracts, vitreous haemorrhage, tractional retinal detachment, ciliary body detachment, and phthisis bulbi.1 We present the first report of this entity occurring in a non-diabetic patient without previous ophthalmic surgery.

Case report

A 20 year old Asian man presented with acute right sided visual loss. There was no history of ocular trauma or family history of note. He was systemically well. Visual acuity was 6/12 right eye, 6/5 left. Vessels were visible on the right posterior lens capsule, associated with localised cataract and anterior vitreous opacity (Fig 1A). Clinical examination revealed no other ocular abnormality, but the temporal periphery of the right retina was obscured. Anterior segment fluorescein angiography confirmed perfusion of the vessels (Fig 1B). Posterior segment fluorescein angiography was of poor quality in the right eye and revealed no fundus or peripheral abnormality in the left eye. Fluorescein angiography of the patient’s only surviving parent was normal. Fasting blood glucose, Toxocara/Toxoplasma serology, haemoglobin electrophoresis, and skull/chest radiographs were normal. Doppler studies indicated a probable feeder vessel derived from anterior retina but no evidence of tumour or other pathology (Fig 2).

Figure 1

Right eye. (A) Abnormal vessels on temporal aspect of posterior capsule associated with localised cataract and anterior vitreous opacity. (B) Anterior segment fluorescein angiography confirming perfusion of vessels.

Figure 2

B-scan ultrasonography with Doppler showing a feeder vessel.

Progressive cataract reduced visual acuity to 6/24 within 2 weeks of presentation. Phacoemulsification surgery was performed, followed by closure of the abnormal vessels with krypton laser (568 nm). Nd:YAG capsulotomy was performed 6 weeks after surgery. Two weeks later, fibrinous anterior uveitis and vitritis developed which resolved with topical steroid medication. A year later, vessels persisted in the rolled capsular edge, and opacification of the anterior hyaloid necessitated Nd:YAG laser discission. Two and a half years after presentation, he is asymptomatic with 6/9 visual acuity in the right eye.


In most instances of retinal neovascularisation, an angiogenic stimulus, such as capillary non-perfusion or inflammation, can be identified.4 In this case, no evidence was found of capillary non-perfusion, or any, other than postoperative, inflammation.

A number of specific diagnoses were considered. No temporal traction on vascular arcades or optic disc was seen in the affected eye, and peripheral retinal vasculature was normal, where seen in the affected eye, and in the fellow eye. There was no history of low birth weight or prematurity as in retinopathy of prematurity. There was no family history, and the retinal peripheries of the parent were normal, which makes dominant exudative vitreoretinopathy unlikely. No inflammation, other than post-surgical, was identified in anterior or posterior segment, and visible pars plana appeared normal. Toxocara and Toxoplasma serology was negative. There was no visible peripheral retinal vasculitis or systemic evidence of sarcoidosis or multiple sclerosis. No evidence of ocular trauma was found, and no foreign body was identified radiographically. The patient is not diabetic, screening for haemoglobinopathy was negative, and there were no ophthalmoscopic or angiographic signs of retinal vascular occlusion. No evidence of a hyperviscosity syndrome was found.

The patient’s age, sex, and race are typical of patients suffering from idiopathic peripheral vaso-occlusive retinopathy (Eales’ disease), but the absence of retinal vasculitis, vitreous and retinal haemorrhage, and the unilateral nature of disease, are less characteristic. No sign of tumour was apparent on ultrasonography, and no evidence of arteriovenous malformation was found in the eye or body. He had no features of incontinentia pigmenti or facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. The diagnosis therefore remains uncertain.

Treatment was mandated on the basis of visual loss. Vitreoretinal opinion preferred phacoemulsification surgery to pars plana vitreolensectomy because of the absence of definable vitreous or peripheral retinal disease. The vessels were closed with laser before capsulotomy to avoid haemorrhage, as has occurred after capsulotomy in diabetic patients with AHFP.3