The ‘painless’ stroke symptom ​that people spot ‘upon waking’

A sudden halt in blood flow to the brain can present in one of several ways, depending on which part of the organ is affected. Sometimes, the blood supply to the eyes is cut off, causing an eye stroke. Though the condition is treatable if diagnosed early, it may foreshadow a more serious stroke.

There is growing evidence that early damage to the tiny blood vessels leading to the eyes may predict oncoming cardiovascular disease.

Sometimes these blockages cause sudden changes in vision such as blurriness, dark areas, or shadows.

“Ocular (eye) strokes can foreshadow a more serious stroke,” warns Harvard Health.

When an eye stroke occurs, it almost always happens in just one of the eyes.

Fortunately, vision returns 80 percent of the time when there is a less serious blockage in the smaller arteries.

The condition remains dangerous, however, as a lack of blood flow to the tissues located in the front part of the optic nerve can have dire consequences for vision if treatment is delayed.

The optic nerve transmits signals to the brain and carries millions of nerve fibres and blood vessels.

When it becomes completely cut off from the supply of nutrients and oxygen, nerve tissue is damaged, which can result in vision loss.

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The Penn University website says: “People with eye stroke are usually given little warning.

“Most people with eye stroke notice a loss of vision in one eye upon waking in the morning with no pain.

“Some people notice a dark area or shadow in their vision that affects the upper or lower half of their visual field.”

The health body adds: “Other symptoms include loss of visual contrast and light sensitivity.”

Certain people may have a higher risk of the condition due to their disc shapes, explains Penn Medicine.

This is because nerve fibres that travel to the brain and down the optic nerve must enter the eye through a hole known as the optic foramen.

If a person’s foramen is smaller than average this could cause the optic nerves to become crowded.

“Although the relationship is not well understood, people who had significant cardiovascular disease and also take the drug Viagra are more at risk for the disease,” adds the health body.

The British Heart Foundation states that a rapid diagnosis offers the best chance of a successful recovery.

Ideally, the eye stroke should be diagnosed within four hours in order to dislodge the clot by massaging the eye, explains the health body.

Doctor Pearse Keane, a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfield Eye Hospital added: “People who develop a sudden loss of vision should see an expert urgently.

“Unfortunately, most patients don’t get specialist help for 24 hours or more, which is too late for treatment.”

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