An eye stroke is a dangerous condition that happens when there’s a lack of blood flow to the tissues located in the front part of the optic nerve. It is dangerous and potentially debilitating because it can cause a sudden loss of vision. If you seek immediate attention from your eye doctor, it’s possible to preserve your vision. But without immediate intervention, the damage can become irreversible.
While eye strokes can’t always be prevented, there are ways to lower your risk. The first step – understanding where your risk falls.
Risk Factors for Developing an Eye Stroke
Eye stroke is caused by poor circulation in the blood vessels that nourish the front portion of the optic nerve. The optic nerve connects the brain to the eye and contains millions of nerve fibers and blood vessels. If there is a blockage, a lack of pressure or a perfusion of the tissue, normal blood flow is reduced and all nutrients and oxygen are cut off. This damages the nerve tissues and results in vision loss.
The most common risk factors for eye strokes include:
- Age. Right off the bat, people who are middle-aged and older have a higher risk of having an eye stroke. Only about 10 percent of cases are from those under the age of 45.
- Gender. Eye strokes are more common in men than women, particularly men over age 60.
- High blood pressure. Having high blood pressure damages all of the blood vessels in the body, including the eyes. While being on medication can be helpful during the day, blood pressure can drop significantly at night, putting you at risk for an eye stroke.
- High cholesterol. High cholesterol increases the risk for developing fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits can grow and make it difficult for blood to flow through the arteries.
- Diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk for having diabetic eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. It also puts you at risk for an eye stroke because it affects the blood vessels.
- Smoking. Cigarettes contain thousands of toxic chemicals that can destroy the retina and blood vessels. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. It could save your life – and your eyesight.
Think You’re Experiencing an Eye Stroke? Contact Your Eye Specialist Immediately.
If you notice the signs of an eye stroke – sudden or gradual vision loss, eye pressure and floaters in one eye – contact your eye specialist right away. Treatments must be given within a few hours following the onset of symptoms in order to effectively prevent vision loss. Contact our Brooklyn office for all of your eye needs.