Thu, Jun 07, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Take eye ‘blackouts’ seriously, doctor urges

HIGH RISK:Those over the age of 60 or suffering from hyperglycemia, hypertension and hyperlipidemia should see a doctor if they experience a loss of or blurry vision

By Tsai Shu-yuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The public should be wary if they experience sudden eye “blackouts” or blurry vision, ophthalmologist Hsu Min-yan (許閔彥) said on Monday, citing cases where marathon runners suffered eye strokes due to extreme dehydration.

A 37-year-old man was hospitalized at Chungshan Medical University Hospital in 2014 for rhabdomyolysis, or the breaking down of muscle fiber, after running a marathon and complained of blurry vision a year later, Hsu said.

The central veins of the patient’s right retina were almost entirely clogged, and the macular region was swollen due to an edema, he said.

An injection of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) saved the man’s right eye, and two more injections left the patient with 20/30 vision, Hsu said.

The patient’s condition has stabilized over the past two years, and he has not complained of the blurriness for nearly a year, he said.

However, it was the man’s job — working near the furnaces in an iron factory — that was the suspected reason for the eye stroke and his rhabdomyolysis, Hsu added.

An eye stroke is caused by the occlusion of retinal veins in the center of the retina, which may lead to edema of the macular region, Hsu said, adding that the blurry vision, or even possible loss of sight, is due to lack of oxygen to the photoreceptor cells in the retina.

The reason behind eye strokes is unknown, and could be due to age or chronic hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia and hypertension, he said.

Two percent of people over the age of 40 suffer from various degrees of branch or central retinal vein occlusion and some have suffered an eye stroke because of dehydration, Hsu said.

Strenuous exercise should be accompanied by ample rehydration, Hsu said, adding that people in high-risk groups — those over the age of 60 or suffering from the three “hypers” — should immediately visit a doctor if they experience a sudden loss of or blurry vision.

The National Health Insurance program covers anti-VEGF therapy, which usually takes upwards of two to three years to complete, he added.

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