Fleeting darkness

1 February 2024
Winter 2024

Adrian O’Dowd examines why optometrists need to act on behalf of patients who report temporary sight loss in one eye caused by amaurosis fugax, a potentially serious and sometimes overlooked condition.

Domains covered

Communication Clinical practice

Temporary and short-lived sight loss in one eye could be a sign of something serious: amaurosis fugax linked to a stroke. As the first people approached for help, optometrists need to know what may be happening and how to deal with it.

A transient ischaemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke (Stroke Association, 2023 ), is a stroke with short-lived symptoms, caused by a clot blocking the blood supply to a person’s brain. In the UK, there are around 100,000 strokes every year and the incidence of first-ever TIA is about 50 per 100,000 people annually (NICE, 2023a). TIAs can refer to both cerebral TIAs, which happen in the brain, and amaurosis fugax, which happens in the retina (Mbonde et al, 2022 ).

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