Eye stroke is a condition where vision problems occur due to damage in the veins or arteries. Just like the brain and other body organs, our eyes also need a constant, healthy blood flow in order to function properly. A lot of people may think that eye stroke is caused by a problem in the brain. It is not. For once, our brain is not responsible for our vision problems. It is actually our heart, or what we did to it, that is the main culprit.
Our body is a huge network where everything is connected. A problem in our blood composition and saturation can become complicated and result in a heart condition. A heart condition can then set off a series of problems involving major organs like the brain, liver, kidneys, etc. In the case of eye stroke, a displaced clot that has occluded a certain vein or artery can be the cause of the problem.
Eye stroke is grouped into four major categories based on the location of the clot or thrombus formation:
Branch retinal artery occlusion, or BRAO, is one of the most common forms of eye stroke. Heart disease information will tell us that BRAO is caused by a dislodged embolus that has wedged itself into a branch of the artery that supplies blood to the retina. This embolus would usually come from the carotid artery or from one of the chambers of the heart. The blockage will limit the supply of oxygen-rich blood to that certain area of the retina, incidentally irreparable damage. Despite painless, BRAO will cause a sudden loss of peripheral vision.
Branch retinal vein occlusion or BRVO may cause a variety of vision problems: blind spots, distorted or blurred images and scotoma. The hardening of a retinal artery can cause thrombus formation in a near retinal vein which, in turn, causes the onset of BRVO.
Another category for eye stroke would be central retinal artery occlusion or CRAO. In this condition, the embolus has lodged itself in an artery that supplies the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision. CRAO patients have reported sudden blindness in one eye or amaurosis fugax, and the inability to see objects placed directly in front of them. Another indicator or CRAO would have the affected eye's ability to perceive light.
Last on the list would be central retinal venous occlusion or CRVO. This would be the only one among the four which has pain as a presenting symptom. Patients suffering from CRVO would experience severe pain and photophobia in the affected eye. Redness would be observed as well. CRVO has two subcategories: ischemic and non-ischemic. Of the two, non-ischemic CRVO has a better prognosis.
A major complication of eye stroke would be neovascularization or the development of new blood vessels. This is considered harmful and may cause further loss of vision. Laser treatment is usually utilized to treat neovascularization.
Currently, there are no treatments and rehabilitation therapies that might help restore damaged vision. The best that doctors can do will be to remove the clot as soon as possible to prevent further damage. The window for treatment is only 24 hours. After 24 hours, patients can lose their sight in their affected eye completely.