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Eye Health Library / Eye Exam & Diagnoses
A common cause of temporary vision loss is known as a transient ischemic attack. It is more commonly known as a TIA, or a mini-stroke and tends to occur most often in seniors. A TIA may only last a matter of minutes but it should not be ignored since roughly 15 per cent of patients who survive their first TIA or mini-stroke will suffer another one within one year.
The risk factors of transient ischemic attacks are as follows: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, IV drug use, cocaine use, excessive alcohol, use of oral contraceptives and lack of exercise causing obesity.
A TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may occur. A TIA is caused by a reduction in blood flow to the brain or eyes for a short period of time due to a small blood clot. Symptoms of a TIA may include one or more of the following: painless loss of vision of one or both eyes, weakness and tingling on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, or vertigo (dizziness). When the blood flow returns, usually in a matter of minutes, the symptoms go away. Rarely does a TIA last for more than 24 hours. With a stroke, the blood flow does not return causing permanent damage.
Patients suffering from a transient ischemic attack need to see a physician as soon as possible. The physician may order a list of tests including blood pressure, a full blood work-up, CT scan, MRI, Doppler ultrasound, or an echocardiogram. If a loss of vision is experienced, an examination by your doctor of optometry is important to rule out any other possible causes of vision loss. Initial treatment of a transient ischemic attack usually involves taking prescribed blood thinners. The long-term treatment of a TIA depends on the cause of the attack.