Do you know that strokes don’t only happen in the brain? They can happen in the eyes too. Like the stroke in the brain, when blood flow is blocked in the retina it can cause a stroke in the eye which is also known as retinal artery occlusion. Just like a brain stroke, a stroke in the eye is a medical emergency that needs immediate medical attention. If you don’t get treated right away, an eye stroke can cause loss of vision.
Over here we discuss the causes and symptoms of an eye stroke so that medical help can be sought in the hour of need:
Causes of an eye stroke:
Much like a brain stroke, an eye stroke is caused due to poor circulation in the blood vessels. When the blood to the brain is reduced or cut off, the retina loses its blood and nutrient supply. This damages the nerve tissue, resulting in a sudden loss of vision.
Symptoms of an eye stroke:
An eye stroke is a medical emergency and usually comes without pain and thus, it is important that you are well aware of all the symptoms. If you or your loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, rush to an eye hospital:
- A sudden change in vision or loss of vision in one eye.
- Some people may experience loss of peripheral vision only.
- Blurry or destroyed vision.
- Vision changing or getting worse within hours.
Who are at the risk of having an eye stroke?
Though anyone can suffer from an eye stroke, certain people may have a higher risk than others of having an eye stroke. The risk factors are similar to those of a brain stroke. The risk factors include:
- Blocked arteries
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Previous heart attack or stroke
- Chest pain
- Coronary heart disease
- Diabetes or a family history of diabetes
How is an eye stroke diagnosed?
If your eye doctor suspects an eye stroke, he or she will review your medical history. Your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels will be measured as well as your central visual acuity and visual field. The affected eye will be compared to the normal eye. He or she will ask about symptoms such as fever, headache, jaw pain and weight loss.
When a person is suffering from an eye stroke, every minute counts. 4 hours of blockage can damage the vision permanently. Treatment may involve medication to dissolve blood clots or laser treatment that move the blood clots away from the retina. In some cases, eye doctors may recommend widening of the arteries in the retina. Lasting injury can be avoided if blocked arteries are cleared and blood flow is restored. Also, long-term follow-up care is needed after a person suffers from an eye stroke.
How to prevent an eye stroke?
The most essential and important part of preventing an eye stroke is to keep your heart in good health. Ensure that your blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels are within the optimal range. Embrace a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and exercise. Smoking increases the risk of all types of stroke. If you smoke, try to quit it gradually. If you have glaucoma, get your eye checked regularly.
When to see an eye doctor?
Eye stroke is a medical emergency, get medical help right away. The emergency OPD at Disha Eye Hospitals has a dedicated eye doctor. Patients with eye emergencies are seen without any prior appointment. You can also tele-consult our eye doctors in Kolkata. However, in case of an emergency, rush to our nearest branch.