June 20, 2024

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Eye stroke cases on rise amid heatwave; know signs and symptoms, preventive tips | Health

3 min read

Cases of eye stroke are on the rise amid ongoing severe heatwave across different parts of the country. Heatwave can affect several aspects of our well-being and put us at risk of heart ailments, brain disorders, lung, liver, and kidney issues. Another dangerous side effect of the intense heat is an eye stroke that can lead to sudden vision loss and is similar to a brain stroke. During extremely hot months, the body may struggle to keep itself cool. This can lead to dehydration, which can make the blood more prone to clotting. (Also read | Intense heatwave: 7 foods that can help prevent heat stroke)

If one experiences sudden blurry vision or loss of central vision, it could be eye stroke. (Freepik)
If one experiences sudden blurry vision or loss of central vision, it could be eye stroke. (Freepik)

Heatwave can also lead to high blood pressure which can increase risk of blockage of arteries. If one experiences sudden blurry vision or loss of central vision, it could be eye stroke. To prevent this condition, it’s important to stay hydrated, avoid peak-hour sun exposure and manage your chronic conditions well.

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What is an eye stroke?

“Eye stroke, medically known as retinal artery occlusion, occurs when the blood flow to the retina is blocked, leading to sudden vision loss. The retina requires a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients provided by blood flow; hence, any obstruction can result in severe damage within minutes,” says Dr Anurag Aggarwal, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad.

“It is similar to a stroke in the brain but affects the eye,” says Dr Deepti Mehta, Consultant – Ophthalmology, CARE Hospitals, HITEC City, Hyderabad.

Why are eye stroke cases increasing amid heatwave conditions?

“Heat waves can lead to dehydration and increased blood viscosity, raising the risk of blood clots. Extreme heat can also exacerbate cardiovascular conditions, further increasing the risk of eye strokes,” says Dr. Deepti Mehta, Consultant – Ophthalmology, CARE Hospitals, HITEC City, Hyderabad.

Dr Aggarwal says it could be due to dehydration and heat stress on the body, as extreme heat can even strain cardiovascular system:

1. Dehydration and blood viscosity

Heatwaves increase the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can thicken the blood, making it more prone to clotting, thereby leading to occlusion in the retinal arteries.

2. Heat stress on the body

Heat stress can exacerbate underlying cardiovascular conditions, which are directly linked to eye stroke. High temperatures can also escalate hypertension, further increasing the risk of arterial blockages.

3. Increased incidence of heat-related illnesses

Heatwaves contribute to a rise in heat-related illnesses, which can strain the cardiovascular system, impacting the retinal arteries.

Signs and symptoms of eye stroke

Dr Aggarwal explains the signs of eye stroke and how it can be treated:

1. Sudden vision loss: A sudden, painless loss of vision in one eye is the most common symptom of eye stroke. This can be partial or complete.

2. Visual disturbances: Experiencing sudden dimming or blurring of vision, where central vision might be compromised but peripheral vision remains intact.

3. Sudden blind spots: Another symptom is the appearance of blind spots or shadows that affect the visual field.

Treatment

1. Immediate medical attention: Seek urgent medical care. Time is crucial as delays can lead to permanent vision loss.

2. Clot-busting medications: Administration of thrombolytics to dissolve the clot in the artery.

3. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Increasing oxygen supply to potentially reduce retinal damage.

4. Paracentesis: A procedure to release ocular pressure by drawing out fluid from the eye’s front chamber.

Prevention Tips

Dr Mehta says appropriate lifestyle changes need to be made to tackle the intense heat

  • Stay hydrated, especially during heat waves
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise
  • Manage underlying health conditions effectively
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption
  • Regular eye check-ups, especially for those with cardiovascular risks

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