How strong are the eyes

Eye infarcts - occlusion of the arteries and veins in the retina


The term "eye infarction" is a rather colloquial and imprecise collective term for various acute clinical pictures that lead to an occlusion of arteries or veins of the retina or the optic nerve. In the worst case, they can cause vision loss. How pronounced this is depends on the extent and the exact location of the circulatory disorder. The longer the retina or optic nerve are cut off from the blood supply of nutrients and oxygen, the greater the damage to the eye.

In addition to an eye exam that specifically looks for signs of an eye attack, you should also make an appointment with your family doctor or an internist. He will specifically screen you for high blood pressure, arterial disease, and heart problems that may have caused the heart attack.

If a circulatory disorder is found during the examination, the classification of the clinical picture depends on where exactly the blocked blood vessel is.

Eye infarction due to retinal artery occlusion (RAV)

Retinal artery occlusion (RAV) blocks the central artery of the retina. This is painless, but leads to sudden loss of vision in the affected eye. In most cases, those affected can only see their own hand or perceive light sources with great difficulty.

RAV is also known as an eye stroke. The most common cause is wandering blood clots from the cervical artery or from heart disease. Studies have shown that most patients have pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, narrowing of the carotid artery, heart valve defects or diabetes.

For the ophthalmological diagnosis, the pupils are first dilated so that the doctor can precisely identify the typical changes in the retina. In RAV, the retina is only pale red in color due to the inadequate blood flow and clearly shows constricted blood vessels. In the early stages of the disease, the retina does not show any changes, which is why a fluorescent dye is injected into the blood vessels and a picture of the retina is then taken with a special camera, which shows exactly how strong and even the blood flow is.

So far, RAV cannot be treated effectively. However, if you are treated within 24 hours of the sudden vision loss, an ophthalmologist can remove the blood clot using one of the following methods:

  • Use of glaucoma medication to break the blockage
  • Eye massage after inhaling five percent carbon dioxide
  • Minimal surgical procedure that involves removing some fluid


After the blood clot has been loosened, the blood flow to the retina can be restored at least partially. The faster that happens, the less vision loss is. However, studies have shown that the damage to the retina is irreversible even after 90 minutes without blood supply. Because of this, the majority of RAV patients suffer from severe and permanent vision loss.