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Demystifying Eye Strokes: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Approaches

Home > Blogs > Demystifying Eye Strokes: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Approaches

Demystifying Eye Strokes: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Approaches

Ophthalmology | Posted on 04/27/2024 by Dr. Shubhnav Jain



Introduction 

An eye stroke also known as retinal artery occlusion is an uncommon but dangerous disorder resulting in abrupt loss of vision due to restricted blood supply to the retina. Eye strokes have serious effects on vision and general eye health, even though they are less common they affect other parts of the body. 

According to one recent study, retinal artery occlusion affects 1 in 10,000 individuals annually, with greater incidence rates among older adults and those with underlying cardiovascular risk factors. However, precise data may differ. It is important to comprehend its warning indications, risk factors, and quick treatment options to reduce the effects of this problem.

If you experience symptoms like blurred vision or blurred spots, book your appointment with one of the best ophthalmologists in Jaipur at CK Birla Hospitals. We offer complete care, including cutting-edge treatments involving retinal laser therapy and intra-arterial thrombolysis, to ensure the best possible outcomes for people experiencing this dangerous condition. 

In this guide, we will discuss eye strokes in detail so make sure to stick to the end. However, please note that this is for informative purposes only and doesn’t replace the significance of a Ophthalmologist's consultation in any way. 

What is an eye stroke?

An eye stroke is a condition that occurs when the blood supply to the retina is cut off, resulting in a sudden loss of vision. It is similar to a stroke that happens inside the eye instead of the brain. Several things, such as a blood clot or plaque accumulation in the arteries supplying the retina cause this occlusion. Blurriness in one eye or loss of vision, frequently compared to a curtain falling across the visual field, etc. are some of the symptoms. Being aware of risk factors and symptoms is vital to restrict vision loss and avert subsequent consequences. 

What are the types of eye strokes?

  • Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO): In this type, the main artery supplying blood to the retina is blocked resulting in severe and abrupt vision loss in one eye.
  • Branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO): This type affects a branch of the small retinal artery and leads to vision loss in a particular portion of the visual field.
  • Twig retinal artery occlusion: This occurs when a smaller branch of the retinal artery becomes blocked causing vision loss.

What are eye stroke symptoms?

It is vital to identify eye stroke symptoms on time to receive medical attention promptly and prevent vision loss. Here are some of the symptoms one needs to be mindful of: 

  • Sudden and painless loss of vision
  • Vision distortion or blurriness
  • Partial vision loss
  • Diminished color perception
  • Defects in the visual field such as blind spots 

What are the causes of eye strokes?

There are varied causes of eye strokes such as:

  • Blood Clots: Blood clots in the arteries supplying the retina can restrict blood flow and cause an eye stroke.
  • Atherosclerosis: The build-up of plaques, or fatty deposits, in the arteries can cause blood vessels to constrict or get blocked raising the risk of eye strokes.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: An individual’s risk of having an eye stroke is increased by different conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension causing vascular damage.
  • Emboli: Passing particles from other body areas, like blood clots or cholesterol, can lodge in the retinal arteries and cause blockages.
  • Vasculitis: Blood vessel narrowing or occlusion caused by inflammatory diseases can cause eye strokes.

Other causes of an eye stroke include:

  • People who are over 40 years of age or older
  • Smoking 
  • Eye trauma 
  • Damage caused due to radiation treatments 
  • Birth control pills 
  • Clotting disorders like sickle cell disease 
  • Carotid artery disease 
  • Kidney disease 
  • Abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation 
  • Pregnancy

How is an eye stroke diagnosed?

An abrupt complete or partial vision loss in one is considered to be a medical emergency. If you experience any symptoms of eye strokes, then your healthcare provider may initiate the diagnosis by:

  • Understanding the medical history and identifying your symptoms 
  • Doing a complete eye assessment through fundoscopy, in which the doctor involves using a bright light to view the eyes. 
  • Performing fluorescein angiography test to analyze the blood flow in the eyes by using a special dye. 
  • Ordering color fundus photography tests to obtain the fundus pictures, that is eye part containing the retina, 
  • Performing optical coherence tomography tests for viewing the blood vessels in the retina. 

If the healthcare suspects that there is an existence of giant cell arteritis also referred to as temporal arteritis, they might order tests like an ultrasound, echocardiogram, and blood tests to look for inflammation markers. 

What are the options available for eye strokes treatment? 

Options available for eye stroke treatment aim to restore blood flow in the retina and avert vision loss. Here are these options:

  • Medications to minimize pressure in the eye so that blood clot is dissolved. 
  • Gently massaging the eye area helps in dislodging small clots restricting blood flow.
  • Laser treatment to stop blood vessels that are leaking 
  • Paracentesis involves the use of a needle to collect fluid from the eye so that it can help in relieving pressure.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy also involves breathing pure oxygen in a unique chamber.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, to maintain vision and prevent long-term problems from eye strokes, it is essential to comprehend the symptoms, risk factors, and available treatments. One must ensure frequent eye exams and take proactive measures to address any underlying medical issues because prompt identification and action can have a major impact on outcomes. You can protect your eyesight and overall eye health proactively and eventually improve your quality of life by being knowledgeable and obtaining timely medical assistance.

FAQs

 

Can you die from an eye stroke?

Arteries are responsible for carrying blood to the retina from the heart. If the blood flow is restricted, cells present in the retina don’t get sufficient oxygen. They begin to die within no time like in minutes or hours. So, yes, eye stroke is an emergency but mortality rates are very low.

Can stress cause an eye stroke?

While underlying risk factors like hypertension and cardiovascular disease are significant contributors to the development of eye strokes, stress does not directly cause them. 

Is eye stroke curable?

Early medical intervention is required to treat eye strokes but they may not be cured. However, timely intervention can assist restore blood flow, stopping more vision loss, and treating underlying disorders to improve visual functioning.