Amaurosis Fugax is the condition of transient loss of vision in either one or both the eyes due to lack of blood supply to the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye).
It is not itself a disease but acts as a symptom for other disorders, namely, blood clots or parts of plaque blocking an artery causing the poor flow of blood in the vessels supplying the eye.
This condition is also referred to as Temporary visual loss or Transient monocular visual loss.
What are the Symptoms of Amaurosis Fugax?
Typically it is described by saying, “Black curtain coming down vertically in the field of vision of eyes.” In a study conducted, almost 24% percent of patients with this condition experienced shade forming over their vision.
Vision becomes dim and foggy and it can last over a range of time. It also depends on the condition which causes it that how long it takes for the vision to be restored.
There may be other symptoms present as well through which we can determine the underlying cause of it.
What are the Causes of Amaurosis Fugax?
Blood flow in the central retinal artery may be obstructed due to various reasons such as clots or plaque. This traverses the route from a larger artery such as the one from the neck (carotid artery) or from the heart towards the eye. Plaque is a combination of various substances such as cholesterol, polysaccharides, fat, water, etc.
Hereditary problems such as heart diseases, hypertension, cholesterol problems, or other bad habits including alcohol, cigarettes, or drug abuse can also be the underlying cause. Risk increases with diabetes and aging.
The disease which might be concerned with this transient visual loss are-
2. Injuries on Head
3. Brain Tumor
4. Multiple Sclerosis
5. Certain disorders related to the eye such as optic neuritis.
6. Atherosclerotic carotid artery or ophthalmic artery
9. Temporary vasospasm causing hindrance to the blood flow due to constriction or tightening of blood vessels. It can be caused by exhausting activities such as sports or coitus.
There are many such root causes of Amaurosis Fugax. There can be neurological or ocular resulting in decreased blood flow to the eye.
It can also be caused by certain auto-immune diseases (diseases attacking one’s own body)
What are the Treatments for Amaurosis Fugax?
Treatment can only begin after the underlying reason has been discovered.
If a risk of stroke is identified (due to high cholesterol levels or blood clots), some immediate treatments can be applied in order to reduce the chances of stroke. When a clot gets stuck inside a blood vessel-related to the brain, there is a stoppage of blood flow, giving rise to stroke. However, certain measures can be taken such as-
1. Consuming blood thinners (prolong the time of coagulation of blood). For example- aspirin or warfarin.
2. Undergoing carotid endarterectomy based on location and extent of narrowing of blood vessel and Doctor will clean the plaque out of vessels.
3. Medications to curb hypertension.
Other remedies are also recommended to lower the risk which requires changing certain habits-
1. Cutting down high fat and processed foods in the diet
2. Leaving smoking
3. Introducing work out to daily routine
4. Taking care of health conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or diabetes
Maintaining a proper lifestyle can help in reducing the risks of such health conditions.
How is Amaurosis Fugax Diagnosed?
It is important to consult a healthcare provider if one experiences symptoms to start the treatment as soon as possible. Medical history needs to be given. Physical examination is also done along with an ophthalmic exam.
The doctor might also ask for some tests which include-
1. Ultrasound or imaging scans including intracranial imaging so as to determine a case of blockage or damage
2. Cholesterol levels should be checked to detect the chances of blood clotting
3. Tests such as ECG or EKG should be done to find any change in a heartbeat, to check for heart diseases.
4. Fluorescein angiography can be done if the imaging scans are normal.
Other specific information is enquired by the doctor when the diagnosis is being done to find out the cause for Amaurosis Fugax.
What are the Complications of Amaurosis Fugax?
Although this visual loss is a temporary condition, it signifies an ascended risk of various root problems that can be as serious as a stroke.
This must be taken care of especially if one has an ongoing history of cardiac or neurological or ophthalmic diseases. Ignoring such symptoms will put the patient in greater danger. The doctor must be called as soon as one experiences this.
Amaurosis Fugax is a symptom itself that can have a certain cause. It can indicate a problematic issue such as a transient ischemic attack that occurs prior to the stroke. This means it is a sign that something is not right in the body and the doctor must be consulted before it becomes life-threatening.