A retinal artery occlusion occurs when the central retinal artery or one of the arteries that branch off it becomes blocked. Typically caused by a tiny embolus (blood clot) in the bloodstream, the blockage or occlusion decreases the oxygen supply to the area of the retina nourished by the affected artery, causing permanent vision loss. Medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension (raised blood pressure) and smoking increase the risk.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Transient loss of vision prior to the artery occlusion (in some cases)
- Sudden, painless and complete or partial loss of vision in one eye
Note: If sudden loss of vision occurs get to an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Sometimes the vision loss is reversible but permanent defects in the vision often remain.