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Question:
I had a flash of very bright light that completely covered my vision in my right eye that lasted five minutes. I went to a retina specialist who examined my eye and said to see a cardiologist immediately as I may have had a stroke in the eye from a carotid artery blockage. My cardiologist did an echo of both carotids and found minimal build up and said my eye problem was not caused by the blockage. What else can cause this? The retina specialist did examine my eye and did not detect a retina problem. I am a 73-year-old male with a long history of heart problems.

Answer:
The retina specialist probably thought you had amaurosis fugax which is a loss of vision in one eye that lasts around 20 minutes in most cases. It can result from carotid blockage or problems with the cardiac valves that may send bits of plaque into the arteries and can cause temporary blockages of blood flow. If you have this you are at a higher risk of stroke. Sources of embolism (carotids and heart) should be ruled out. If there are no sources of embolism then I would wait to see if you have repeated episodes. If you do then neuroimaging such as an MRI of the brain and neuro-ophthalmic consultation may be necessary. Of course, a full eye exam is required to be sure that there are no ocular causes for this symptom such as ocular migraine.

Answered by: Gary Hirshfield, MDDr. Gary Hirshfield

Categories: Eye Conditions

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Answered: Jun 19, 2013

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