Skip to main content

 

What is Eye Stroke?

Like all other parts of the body, the eyes rely on the blood vessels to receive oxygenated blood and take out deoxygenated blood for proper functioning. If a clot forms or the retina’s blood vessels become narrow there will be a blockage to the free flow of blood in and out of the eye. This can lead to an eye stroke, also called retinal artery occlusion or retinal vein occlusion. If this is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the retina and loss of sight.

Symptoms

There is usually little warning before an eye stroke occurs. Most people just detect a lack of vision with no pain when they wake in the morning. Some might notice a dark shadow or area in the upper or lower half of their visual field. Some people notice a loss of visual contrast and others experience light sensitivity. There might be decreased vision, distorted vision, peripheral or central vision loss or blind spots.

Presentation

Occlusions depend on the part of the eye where the blood flow is reduced or blocked. These are the ways it might occur:

  • Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO): This is due to a blockage or narrowing in the main blood vessel that brings in oxygenated blood to the retina (central retina artery), thus cutting off its oxygen supply. There is sudden, profound loss in one eye, with no pain.
  • Central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO): This is due to a blockage or narrowing in the main blood vessel that takes deoxygenated blood away from the retina (central retinal vein) causing sudden, painless vision loss. It could be mild or severe.
  • Branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO): Usually caused by the narrowing or blockage of a branch of the CRA. The vision loss is usually partial.
  • Branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO): Usually caused by the narrowing or blockage of a branch of the CRV. The vision loss is usually partial.

They are usually due to high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes or heart disease. It is usually painless and sudden with loss in peripheral vision, and sometimes central vision as well. It generally affects one eye. The blockage causes bleeding along the retinal vein and loss of blood supply in the retinal artery

Treatment

This may involve administering injections to the retina and the use of eyedrops. The use of laser and conventional surgery may also be necessary

Prevention

The best prevention is managing your general health. Having high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure increases the risk of an eye stroke. Have regular annual health checks and follow your doctor’s health instructions. If you experience sudden sight loss or disturbance, then immediately contact us for advice and assistance.