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Retinal Artery Occlusion

Blockage of an artery at the back of the eye
A retinal artery occlusion occurs when the central retinal artery or one of the arteries that branch off of it becomes blocked. This blockage is typically caused by a tiny embolus (clot) in the blood stream. The occlusion decreases the oxygen supply to the area of the retina nourished by the affected artery, causing permanent vision loss.

In this photograph, the affected area of the retina is the pale, whitish-yellow region (blue arrows) that is normally supplied by the blocked artery (white arrow). The surrounding reddish-orange area is healthy retina tissue.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Transient loss of vision prior to the artery occlusion (in some cases)
    Central artery occlusion
  • Sudden, painless and complete loss of vision in one eye
    Branch artery occlusion
  • Sudden, painless, partial loss of vision in one eye


Detection and Diagnosis
• Artery occlusion is diagnosed by examining the retina with an ophthalmoscope.

Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no treatment that can consistently restore vision lost from an artery occlusion. However, if it is caught within the first hour and treatment is initiated immediately, recovery is possible in rare cases.
The following conditions increase the risk of problems that may affect the vessels of the eye:

  • High cholesterol
  • Heart Disease
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma



Images and information related to Eye Conditions on this website have been kindly provided courtesy of St. Luke's Cataract & Laser Institute and adapted for the International Guide Dog Federation website. This on-line information is for educational and communication purposes only and should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published on this website is not intended to replace, supplant, or augment a consultation with an eye care professional regarding the viewer/user's own medical care. The International Guide Dog Federation disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this site