Bright, orange-colored plaques were found at bifurcations of the retinal arterioles in 27 of 235 patients with occlusive disease within the carotid arterial system and in 4 of 93 patients with occlusive disease of the vertebral-basilar arterial system. Some of these plaques later disappeared from the retina, some remained stationary, and still others were observed to move distally. In 6 of 35 patients with recent carotid endarterectomy, new plaques appeared during or shortly after the operation. An occasional plaque caused occlusion of the arteriole. These plaques apparently consist of embolic material from atheromatous lesions in the aorta or carotid arteries. The finding of such plaques on routine ophthalmoscopy constitutes an important sign of atherosclerosis even in an otherwise asymptomatic person.
Hollenhorst RW. Significance of Bright Plaques in the Retinal Arterioles. JAMA. 1961;178(1):23-29. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040400025005