What is an Eye Stroke?
The American Heart Association reports that one-third of people who experience an eye stroke receive follow-up care to determine their risk for having a more serious stroke. Yet, one percent of people who have eye strokes go on to have a regular stroke in just 90 days. Some experts believe that eye strokes aren’t always reported. Part of the problem may be that people don’t always recognize what is going on. Knowing more about eye strokes could help to ensure an older adult receives the care they need.
What Happens During an Eye Stroke?
You may hear an eye stroke referred to as a retinal artery occlusion. An eye stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the retina becomes blocked or narrows so that blood flow is restricted. This means that the retina isn’t getting enough blood. During an eye stroke, blood and fluid may flow out into the retina, causing swelling. This can quickly result in damage to the retina and a loss of vision.
What Are the Risk Factors?
The risk factors for an eye stroke are much the same as those for a regular stroke. If your aging relative has a history of the following conditions or has had a family member with one of them, they may be at greater risk:
- Elevated cholesterol levels.
- Chest pain.
- Heart attack.
In addition to the above risk factors, a person’s age and gender can increase their risk. People in their 60’s have an elevated risk, and men are at greater risk than women.
What Are the Symptoms?
There is usually no pain associated with an eye stroke, but there are other signs. A change in vision that comes on rapidly is one sign to watch for. The person may suddenly see floaters or lose their peripheral vision. Or, their vision may become blurry or distorted. Sometimes a person having an eye stroke will suddenly lose vision in one eye. Sudden changes in vision should be treated as an emergency. If your older adult relative experiences a vision change, call 911.
People who are at risk for eye stroke or regular stroke can benefit from the assistance of home care. A home care provider can watch for signs of a stroke and call for emergency care if needed. If the older adult is taking medications to prevent stroke, a home care provider can remind them when it’s time to take their medicine. Home care providers can also remind older adults about upcoming medical appointments, and even drive them to the appointment.