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Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO)

Sudden, potentially permanent loss of vision primarily affecting those ages 50 to 70


Central Retinal Artery Occlusion is a blockage of the central retinal artery, which results in sudden, painless, and potentially permanent, loss of vision across a wide area of the visual field.

Risk factors

CRAO usually occurs in people between the ages of 50 and 70. There are many risk factors including: high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, heart valve problems, patent foramen ovale (heart anomaly), intravenous drug abuse, atrial fibrillation, or history of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Having a family history of blood clots or clotting disorder also increases your risk.  Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) is another disease that can cause a CRAO.  Symptoms of this disease include: headache, temporal tenderness, jaw pain while chewing food, weight loss, double vision, and decreased vision.


Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) blocks the central artery in the retina, causing a sudden and painless loss of vision.


It is critical to get immediate treatment to try and avoid permanent loss of vision. Irreversible retinal damage occurs after 90 minutes, but vision may still be saved 24 hours after symptoms begin. The goal of emergency treatment is to restore retinal artery blood flow. A thorough medical evaluation is recommended after treatment. Working with your general practitioner or cardiologist to best control any risk factors you may have can help to reduce the risk of a CRAO.  

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