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What is an eye stroke, could you be a risk?

HOUSTON – Most people have never heard of eye strokes, but thanks to cellphones, they are being diagnosed with more frequency.

Here is what you need to know about eye strokes:

WHAT IS AN EYE STROKE?

Dr. Andrew Lee is chairman of the Ophthalmology Department at Houston Methodist Hospital.

He said eye strokes cut off the blood supply to the optic nerve or to the retina and symptoms can be immediate.

"In this case, an eye stroke patient would lose their vision for minutes and then it comes back.. but if you have occlusion… it doesn’t come back,” Lee said.

The scary part is that you won’t know right away whether the loss of vision is temporary or permanent.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AN EYE STROKE?

While staring at your cellphone screen in the dark will not cause an eye stroke, it could make the symptoms more noticeable.

Some of those symptoms include:

  • Blind spots
  • Distorted vision usually in one eye
  • Complete or partial blindness

An eye stroke is serious, it can lead to blindness. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is a sign you need to get to a doctor and fast.

"Patients with an eye stroke can have partial or complete blindness so it can be half your vision, a quarter of your vision, it can be the whole thing,” Lee said.

IS THERE AN INCREASE OF EYE STROKES?

Lee said he doesn’t believe there is an increase in eye strokes, but they are diagnosing them more often because people are noticing something is wrong, particularly when they are using their cellphones.

“Using the phone doesn’t cause a stroke,” Lee said. “It could make the symptoms more noticeable because you notice it more because you’re using each eye, but really the risk factors are in the patient not in their phone.”

WHAT PUTS YOU AT RISK FOR AN EYE STROKE?

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems
  • Clotting disorders

Lee wants people to know that eye strokes could be life-threatening.

If you have any of these symptoms, partial vision loss or complete blindness, go to the emergency room right away. Eye strokes could lead to a brain stroke or even death.