Eye stroke in quadragenarians: Causes and how to identify symptoms before it’s too late

Eye stroke, a condition that can lead to sudden vision loss and other severe complications, is now being seen in people aged as young as 40 years.

ByChetana Belagere

Published Jun 09, 2024 | 7:00 AM Updated Jun 09, 2024 | 1:38 PM

Eye stroke in quadragenarians: Causes and how to identify symptoms before it’s too late

Imagine waking up one day and suddenly losing vision in one eye without any warning! This nightmare scenario is becoming a reality for a growing number of people as eye stroke cases surge.

Anecdotal data from ophthalmologists suggest that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of eye stroke cases, a condition that can lead to sudden vision loss and other severe complications.

Confirming this to South First, Dr Veerabhadra of Bangalore Nethralaya said, “We are seeing an increasing number of youngsters as young as 40 years of age group coming in with retinal vein occlusion.”

What is an eye stroke?

Dr Depika M P, Retina, Cataract, UVEA specialist at Sankara Eye Hospital in Hyderabad explained that eye stroke occurs when there is a blockage in the blood supply to the retina.

“The retina, located at the back of the eye, is crucial for converting light into neural signals, sending it to the brain and hence allowing us to see. During eye stroke there is disruption in blood flow which leads to eye stroke,” explained Dr Depika.

Symptoms of eye stroke include sudden vision loss, blackout or blindspots occurring in the field of vision.

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Causes of eye strokes

Dr Depika said the main risk factors for developing eye strokes are diabetes, hypertension, excessive cholesterol in the blood, smoking and old age. Another important cause is dehydration. She said that during dehydration the blood becomes thick leading to eye stroke.

Agreeing with this, Dr Veerabhadra attributed increasing numbers of diabetics and hypertension cases to be the reason for a lot of retinal vascular occlusion cases.

Explaining further he said, “It can be either arterial occlusions or venous occlusions. I see more commonly venous occlusions like branch retinal vein occlusion ( more commonly due to uncontrolled or undiagnosed high BP) or central retinal vein occlusion ( more common in diabetic patients ).”

Eye stroke at 40 years of age

Dr Veerabhadra explained that he sees an increase in patients around 40 years of age who have blocked veins in their eyes caused by high blood pressure.

He said, “This condition is usually discovered only after it has caused problems. He explained that a blockage in the main artery of the eye is usually due to a small clot, fat, or calcium piece that travels from the heart or large blood vessels.”

Dr Veerabhadra warned that acting quickly is essential to prevent permanent blindness in such cases. These blockages are serious and need treatment within hours. Sometimes, they can also be caused by infections or undiagnosed immune system problems, especially in younger people.

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How to prevent eye strokes?

Doctors explain that regular health checkups — at least yearly once after 40 years will help to prevent this complication as this can diagnose systemic diseases early.

Controlling all systemic diseases (mainly Diabetes and hypertension) with the advice of doctors will definitely prevent these vascular occlusions.

“Avoid smoking, stay hydrated, strict diabetes and hypertension control, treatment for high cholesterol, and regular physician and cardiologist checkups can prevent eye strokes. Also, remember when symptoms of eye stroke occur immediate consultation with an ophthalmologist will prevent vision loss,” explained Dr Depika.

Dr Veerabhadra said these days excellent treatment modalities were available such as intravitreal injections, to improve the vision, but prevention is always better. These patients may require lifelong monitoring eye checkups to preserve the remaining vision, he added.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)