The network of arteries in your retina carry oxygen to your nerve cells. Any time there is a blockage in these arteries (from cholesterol or a blood clot, for example), you could experience vision loss. This is called retinal artery occlusion. Not surprisingly, if the main artery becomes blocked, you will suffer more severe vision loss (central retinal artery occlusion). It is also possible for a smaller artery to become blocked (branch retinal artery occlusion) without your knowledge because there can be little to no visual disturbance.

Symptoms of Retinal Artery Occlusion

It is possible for the blockage to be temporary and go unnoticed, especially because the condition is usually painless. However, the sudden loss of vision in one eye could signify a more permanent blockage.

Risk Factors for Retinal Artery Occlusion

  • Aging
  • Fatty deposits in the arteries
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy or oral contraceptives
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Heart disease, tumors in the heart or abnormal heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots from the neck artery or heart

Treatment for Retinal Artery Occlusion

While there is no medical treatment for retinal artery occlusion, there are techniques that can be done to dislodge the blockage. These may be effective if they are done very quickly: 4-6 hours after the symptoms start:

  • Inhalation of a mixture of 95% oxygen and 5% carbon dioxide to dilate the retinal arteries
  • Lower the intraocular pressure with medication or the removal of fluid from the front of the eye (paracentesis)
  • Massage of the eye

If you are having vision problems, waiting to schedule a comprehensive eye exam could cause you to permanently lose part of your precious vision. Our retina specialists in Las Vegas can diagnose your condition and offer recommendations to preserve your eyesight.

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