A new study reveals a strong correlation between retinal infractions and the risk of brain strokes. Scientists hope this new research will encourage primary care doctors to send retinal infraction patients to neurologists ASAP for thorough evaluations.
Out of 5,688 retinal infraction patients observed in this study, about one-third saw a doctor for a basic test, but less than a dozen visited a registered neurologist. Unfortunately, one in 100 of these study participants had an ischemic stroke within 90 days after noticing a retinal infraction.
Study authors examined the tests each person received within 90 days of noticing their retinal infraction. They found that 34 percent had a cervical carotid imaging test, 28.6 had a heart-rhythm test, 23.3 percent had an echocardiography, but only about 8 percent went to see a neurologist.
Doctors obtained all of their data from Medicare eye claims between 2009 and 2015.
Alexander Eliot Merkler, a neurologist who works at the Weill Cornell Medical Center, was the head researcher on this project. He shared this information at the American Stroke Association's 2018 International Stroke Conference (ISC).
Merkler told attendees that the medical community needs to treat retinal infraction patients seriously if they wanted to reduce stroke incidence in the USA. If doctors took more proactive preventative measures with retinal infraction patients, Dr. Merkler believes they could significantly decrease the number of people suffering from brain strokes.
For those who don't know, a retinal infraction refers to a decreased flow of blood going into the light-sensitive retina. Retinal infractions are officially considered ischemic strokes of the eyes. The retina needs a constant supply of blood and oxygen to function properly.
A few symptoms of a retinal infraction include a temporary loss of vision or sudden blurry vision. People who have conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes are at a higher risk of developing a retinal infraction.
There are many medications doctors can use to minimize brain damage if a person survives their stroke. Depending on the severity of the patients' stroke, stroke survivors might need to see a speech and/or physical therapist.
A few of the best things you could do to prevent your risk of experiencing a stroke include to exercise regularly, follow a Mediterranean diet, practice daily meditation, and take brain-boosting supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, lion's mane mushroom, and turmeric. Smoking is the top preventable risk factor people can cut out of their lives.
Merkler hopes this study will encourage doctors to take retinal infractions seriously in the near future. To follow up this successful study, Dr. Merkler is planning on conducting more tests examining how retinal infractions change a patient's brain.
This year's ISC took place between January 24th and 26th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The American Stroke Association is now accepting applications for the 2019 ISC in Honolulu.