An eye stroke, also known as ‘retinal artery occlusion’, is a very serious condition that can cause severe or permanent vision loss. If left untreated, the prognosis can even be life-threatening. That said, it’s important to remember that specialists exist for a reason and that’s exactly why we’re here to educate you on what to look out for when detecting eye stroke.
Despite being a severe condition, eye stroke is widely misunderstood, with little known about it other than its classification as a ‘medical emergency’. This is usually because patients experiencing eye stroke tend to put their symptoms down to other factors and don’t seek advice from a retina specialist until the condition reaches critical levels.
As with most eye-related conditions, early detection is essential for ensuring you receive the widest possible range of treatments. However, in the case of retinal artery occlusion, regular appointments with an ophthalmologist can save your life.
So, what should you know about eye stroke to ensure the condition doesn’t go unnoticed? Our retina specialists are here to fill you in!
Firstly, what is retinal artery occlusion?
Retinal artery occlusion, or eye stroke, is a condition that occurs due to a lack of sufficient blood flow in the eye. This lack of blood flow is often caused by bad circulation or a blockage (or clot) that causes pressure to build up in the eye area.
Like other strokes in the body, cholesterol particles can also break off and travel through your arteries, causing strokes. For eye strokes, this can mean the central retinal artery becoming blocked and stops downstream blood flow with little or no warning.
The loss of blood flow in the eye area can have severe and immediate complications. This is why education surrounding eye stroke is so essential.
There are different types of eye stroke depending on the type of retina blockage you have. They include:
- Central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) — this occurs when the retina’s main vein becomes blocked
- Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) — this occurs when the retina’s central artery becomes blocked
- Branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO) — this occurs when the retina’s small veins become blocked
- Branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO) — this occurs when the retina’s small arteries become blocked
What common symptoms of eye stroke do your Venice Retina patients experience?
As ophthalmologists, we’ve witnessed a variety of different symptoms associated with eye stroke. While an eye exam is the best way to evaluate the condition and spot it as early as possible, many patients experiencing retinal artery occlusion experience:
- A sudden change or loss in vision (usually in one eye)
- Distorted vision
- The presence of floaters and flashes
- Blind spots or darkness in vision
Note: Even though eye strokes tend to be painless, some patients report the onset of pain or pressure in the eye area. However, this is relatively uncommon.
It’s important to remember that despite some patients reporting the symptoms of eye stroke mentioned above, these same symptoms can also apply to several other eye conditions. This is why if you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your ophthalmologist immediately — but also not panic.
At our eye clinic in Venice, FL, we can arrange a same-day eye exam for patients wanting to rule out eye stroke. While your symptoms might be nothing to worry about, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Regular visits to an ophthalmologist can also make it easier to understand your overall eye health and determine whether symptoms are related to pre-existing conditions or something new. In comparing imaging from previous appointments, retina specialists stand a good chance of spotting changes that would otherwise go unnoticed.
What are the risk factors for retinal artery occlusion?
As mentioned, several types of blockages or changes in blood flow can cause eye stroke. However, some common risk factors include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
- Coronary artery disease
- Having previously had a stroke
- Lack of regular eye exams
Knowing the risk factors and leading a healthy lifestyle should be a top priority for mitigating the risks of eye stroke.
After this, building up a good relationship with your retina specialist is also advised. With regular eye exams (that are quick and easy!), you can significantly lower your risk of developing eye conditions with potentially debilitating complications.
How is an eye stroke diagnosed by your ophthalmologists in Venice, FL?
With extensive training and high-tech equipment, ophthalmologists are well-versed in recognizing the signs of eye stroke. With regular eye exams, we can even detect changes in your eye health before they begin to impact your quality of life.
If visiting our retina clinic in Venice, Florida, for a complete eye exam, you can expect our ophthalmologists to:
- Ask about your medical history (incl. family history)
- Question if you’ve been experiencing any particular symptoms
- Carry out a complete eye exam to check for eye-related conditions
If visiting our retina clinic in Venice, Florida, with suspected retinal artery occlusion, you can expect our ophthalmologists to:
- Inquire about your symptoms and history
- Conduct a same-day dilated examination
- If required, carry out a fluorescein angiogram to check for blockages
If retinal artery occlusion is detected, we will refer you for further medical assistance to ensure there are no other health complications, e.g., risk of brain stroke.
How Venice Retina in Florida can help:
Because ophthalmologists are trained in the medical and surgical treatment of eyes, scheduling regular eye exams at clinics like the one we operate in Venice, Florida, can be crucial to protecting your vision.
We also offer emergency appointments for patients concerned about certain symptoms and who require urgent eye-related medical assistance.
As eye doctors, we see the highest detection rates in patients who regularly visit an eye doctor. This is because as retina specialists, we can build up a better picture of your eye health over several appointments and offer further investigation of conditions as soon as we identify any risk factors.
If you suspect you’re suffering from an eye stroke and require an emergency appointment at our eye clinic in Venice, FL, or if you’d like to establish a relationship with one of our ophthalmologists — the process is simple!
Simply contact our team to schedule an appointment and take back control of your eye health. Don’t let your vision hold you back.