Amaurosis fugax

Alternative Names

Transient monocular blindness

Definition of Amaurosis fugax

Amaurosis fugax is loss of vision in one eye due to a temporary lack of blood flow to the retina. It may be a sign of an impending stroke.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Amaurosis fugax is a symptom of carotid artery disease. It occurs when a piece of plaque in a carotid artery breaks off and travels to the retinal artery in the eye. The carotid arteries provide the main blood supply to the brain. They are located on each side of your neck under the jaw.

Symptoms

Symptoms include the sudden loss of vision in one eye. This usually only lasts seconds but may last several minutes. Some patients describe the loss of vision as a gray or black shade coming down over their eye.

Signs and tests

Tests include a complete eye and neurological exam. In some cases, an eye exam will reveal a bright spot where the clot is blocking the retinal artery. A carotid ultrasound or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) scan should be done to evaluate a blockage in the carotid artery.

Treatment

Treatment of amaurosis fugax depends on the severity of the blockage in the carotid artery. The goal of treatment is to prevent a stroke.

Expectations (prognosis)

Amaurosis fugax itself usually does not result in permanent disability. However, it means you have atherosclerosis and an increased risk for stroke.

Review

Daniel Kantor, MD, Medical Director of Neurologique, Ponte Vedra, FL and President of the Florida Society of Neurology (FSN). Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 10/4/2010

Retina

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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