Most of us are familiar with a stroke, also called a cerebral stroke, and that it happens when blood supply is cut off to the brain. But how many of us are familiar with the symptoms and dangers of an eye stroke?
Both types of strokes are similar in that blood flow is blocked or reduced. The eye stroke, however, results in vision loss that could turn out to be permanent. It’s important to know the signs and sources of different types of eye stroke to be aware of possible risk factors and what symptoms to watch for.
Penn Medicine describes an eye stroke as a “dangerous and potentially debilitating condition that occurs from a lack of sufficient blood flow to the tissues located in the front part of the optic nerve.” Serious eye strokes can happen without warning and cause sudden partial blindness. Penn Medicine explains that many patients who suffer eye strokes begin having mild symptoms in the morning with a painless loss of vision or shadowy dark patch in their line of vision in one eye. Getting immediately to the emergency room is highly recommended to try and prevent permanent damage.
8. What Causes an Eye Stroke?
The optic nerve depends on a consistent blood supply to function properly. An eye stroke can occur if blood vessels feeding oxygen and nutrients to and from the optic nerve get blocked or have poor circulation. The circulation in our blood vessels depends on the overall healthy function of our blood pressure. If blood pressure is compromised, the risk for eye stroke goes up.
Eye strokes then result when the optic nerve is damaged. Penn Medicine states, “if the optic nerve’s nutrient and oxygen supply is cut off, nerve tissue is damaged and lost, resulting in vision loss.”
About 90% of eye strokes occur in people over 45, so aging is a risk factor. People with cardiovascular disease and blood pressure dysregulation are at higher risk for eye stroke as well. Penn Medicine notes that some patients experience significant drops in blood pressure during sleep prior to having eye strokes. This can happen with patients on medications for hypertension (high blood pressure), which may cause their blood pressure to dip down too low overnight.
7. Eye Stroke Symptoms
If you’re experiencing blind spots, peripheral vision loss, or vision that seems distorted, these could be symptoms of an eye stroke.
The most common symptom of eye stroke is partial vision loss that comes on suddenly. According to an article from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, this vision loss is painless. The type of eye stroke you’re experiencing will determine whether the initial vision loss is in part of one eye or the entire eye. Read on for details about specific types of eye strokes and how they manifest.