Amaurosis fugax is a condition of sudden temporary blindness that occurs in one or both eyes. Amaurosis fugax is often an early sign of stroke.
The retina is the part of the eye that serves to capture light from the outside. The light will then be translated in the brain to form an image.
Inside the retina, there are blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the retina. However, in amaurosis fugax, the retinal blood vessels are blocked so that the eye cannot see.
Amaurosis fugax is also known as temporary blindness or transient vision loss. If not treated properly, amaurosis fugax can cause complications in the form of permanent blindness , and can increase the risk of stroke .
Causes of Amaurosis Fugax
Amaurosis fugax is caused by atherosclerosis which then forms fatty plaques and blood clots.
Blood clots can come from large blood vessels in the neck (carotid arteries) or the heart, which detach and then block the retinal blood vessels. These blood clots can also originate from the retinal blood vessels themselves.
There are several factors that can increase the risk of blood clots or fat forming in the retinal blood vessels, namely:
- old age
- Suffering from heart disease, such as arrhythmia
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Abusing drugs
- Suffering from diabetes
- Have a family history of stroke
- Suffer from hypertension and high cholesterol
Some other medical conditions that can cause amaurosis fugax are:
- Polycythemia vera
- Blood vessel disorders, such as inflammation of the arteries (polyarteritis nodosa)
- Inflammation of the optic nerve ( optic neuritis )
- Head injury
- Brain tumor
- Multiple sclerosis , which is a neurological disorder of the brain, eyes, and spine
- Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in various parts of the body
Although rare, amaurosis fugax is also at risk due to sudden narrowing of the blood vessels of the brain. This condition can occur in strenuous physical activity and is carried out continuously for quite a long time.
Symptoms of Amaurosis Fugax
Amaurosis fugax is a symptom of other diseases. Complaints that arise may include blurred vision in one or both eyes suddenly. This condition usually lasts a few seconds to a few minutes, then returns to normal.
Some sufferers of amaurosis fugax describe the blurred vision they experience as if someone is closing their eyes with a curtain.
In many cases, amaurosis fugax indicates a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or early-stage stroke. If amaurosis fugax is accompanied by a TIA, the symptoms include difficulty speaking, sudden weakness on one side of the body, and drooping of one side of the face.
When to go to the doctor
Immediately see a doctor if you experience symptoms of amaurosis fugax. As mentioned above, amaurosis fugax can be a symptom of a serious disease, such as a stroke. Therefore, early examination needs to be done to diagnose the disease and prevent the condition from getting worse.
Diagnosis of Amaurosis Fugax
The doctor will ask questions about the symptoms experienced by the patient, as well as the patient's medical history. After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination, nerves, and eye exams.
To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform additional examinations, namely:
- Scans, such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), to detect blockages in the neck veins
- Blood tests, to measure cholesterol and blood sugar levels
- Electrocardiogram (ECG), to detect heart arrhythmias
Treatment of Amaurosis Fugax
Treatment methods for amaurosis fugax will be tailored to the underlying cause. Doctors can give some medicines, for example:
- Blood- thinning medications, such as aspirin and warfarin, to lower the risk of stroke
- Antihypertensive drugs , such as ACE inhibitors, to lower blood pressure
- Ergotamine and triptan drugs , to treat migraines
In addition to giving medicines, doctors will also ask patients for regular control and treatment so that their condition can always be monitored. Regular check-ups can also help doctors detect signs of a stroke early.
If needed, the doctor may also perform surgery to remove clots in the neck veins. This operation is called a carotid endarterectomy.
Complications of Amaurosis Fugax
Although temporary, amaurosis fugax usually results from certain medical conditions. If the cause is not treated, amaurosis fugax can cause the following complications:
- Heart attack
- Permanent blindness
Prevention of Amaurosis Fugax
There are several ways that can be done to prevent or reduce the risk of amaurosis fugax, namely:
- Stop smoking .
- Always control blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Maintain blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels .
- Apply a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet, low in fat , and low in sugar .
- Increase consumption of vegetables and fruits.
- Stop the habit of consuming alcoholic beverages.
- Do exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day.
- Check and see a doctor regularly if you suffer from diabetes , hypertension, and heart disease.