What Is a Retinal Artery Occlusion?

It is common for people to know that high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases have a risk to overall health. Some people are not aware of how high blood pressure can affect our eyesight. Vision can be affected if the damage reaches the arteries in the eye.

A blockage in the arteries of the retina is known to be retinal artery occlusion (RAO). The blockage can be due to a clot, occlusion, or build-up of cholesterol in the artery. The majority of people are not familiar with this type of condition but it is closely similar to a stroke.

These are the two types of retinal artery occlusion (RAO):

  • If the small arteries in the retina are blocked, it is called branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO)
  • If the central artery in the retina is the one affected, it is called central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO). It is a form of a stroke in the eye which needs evaluation and treatment as soon as possible.

The most common type of RAO is central retinal artery occlusion. If this occurs to you, you might have a hard time using your vision. You can see the movement of the hand but no details more than that. If the blockage in small arteries is less serious, vision may return to normal about 80% of the time.

retinal artery occlusion

What Are the Symptoms of Retinal Artery Occlusion?

If it is a case of central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO), it can affect all of one eye but if it is a case of branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO) it can only affect the part of one eye. The main symptom is a sudden change in eyesight but painless.

These are the following symptoms of retinal artery occlusion:

  • sudden vision loss
  • painless vision loss
  • loss of peripheral vision
  • distorted vision
  • blind spots

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is important to seek medical help right away. Delaying treatment can lead to vision loss.

retinal artery occlusion

Who Are the People at Risk for Retinal Artery Occlusion (RAO)?

It is most likely that retinal artery occlusion occurs in men than women. The disease is common to people who are in their 60’s. If you have any of the following diseases, it increases your risk of retinal artery occlusion:

  • smoking
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure or hypertension
  • narrowing of the carotid or neck artery
  • vasculitis
  • kidney disease
  • clotting disorders
  • damage from radiation treatment

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