Amaurosis fugax causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor-In-Chief: Marcelo R. Zacarkim, M.D. [2]


Amaurosis fugax is a symptom of carotid artery disease. It occurs when a piece of plaque in a carotid artery breaks off and travels to the retinal artery in the eye. The carotid arteries provide the main blood supply to the brain. They are located on each side of the neck under the jaw. Plaque is a hard substance that forms when fat, cholesterol[1], and other substances build up in the walls of arteries. Pieces of plaque can block blood flow. In people with amaurosis fugax, vision loss continues as long as the blood supply to the retinal artery is blocked. Atherosclerosis of the arteries in the neck is the main risk factor for this condition. Risk factors for atherosclerosis include heart disease, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure[2].


Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Atherosclerosis, Blood coagulation disorders, Cardiac emboli, Cardiac failure, Carotid artery stenosis, Carotid occlusive disease, Carotid bifurcation thromboembolism, Central retinal vein occlusion, Decreased blood flow (ischemia) to the retina, Fatigue, Hollenhorst plaque(cholesterol embolus, Hyperlipidemia, Hypertension, Hypofibrinolysis, Hypoperfusion, Hypotension, Hypovolemia, Ischemic stroke, Local emboli (ipsilateral internal carotid artery, Malignant arterial hypertension, Preexisting asymmetric occlusive vascular disease, Retinal artery thrombosis, Retinal emboli, Retinal vein occlusion, Stroke, Vasospasm
Chemical / poisoning No underlying causes
Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect Pramipexole
Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine Diabetes mellitus, Obesity
Environmental No underlying causes
Gastroenterologic No underlying causes
Genetic No underlying causes
Hematologic Thrombophilia
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease No underlying causes
Musculoskeletal / Ortho No underlying causes
Neurologic Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, Migraine aura, Neurologic disorder, Papilledema, Optic neuritis, Ischemic stroke, Retinal artery occlusion (RAO), Retinal vein occlusion
Nutritional / Metabolic No underlying causes
Obstetric/Gynecologic No underlying causes
Oncologic No underlying causes
Opthalmologic Blindness, Chiasm compression, Glaucoma, Ocular ischemic syndrome, Optic nerve, Sudden vision changes, Optic neuritis, Papilledema, Oculomotor disturbances
Overdose / Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric Psychogenic
Pulmonary No underlying causes
Renal / Electrolyte Polyuria (frequent urination)
Rheum / Immune / Allergy Inflammatory arteritis (Takayasu's arteritis)
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma No underlying causes
Urologic No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Miscellaneous Blood viscosity, Drug abuse, Idiopathic, Nonvascular ophthalmic disorder, Unexplained weight loss

Causes in Alphabetical Order

  • Blood coagulation disorders
  • Blood viscosity
  • Cardiac emboli (valve, mural thrombi, intracardiac tumor)
  • Carotid occlusive disease
  • Chiasm compression
  • Decreased blood flow (ischemia) to the retina
  • Disease susceptibility
  • Distal internal carotid artery atheroembolism
  • Extracranial arterial occlusive disease[12]
  • Hypofibrinolysis
  • Ipsilateral carotid disease[8][5]
  • Irregular ulcerated lesion
  • Neurologic disorder
  • Nonvascular ophthalmic disorder
  • Sudden vision changes


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  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Paul NL, Simoni M, Rothwell PM (2013). "Transient isolated brainstem symptoms preceding posterior circulation stroke: a population-based study". Lancet Neurol. 12 (1): 65–71. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70299-5. PMC 3530272. PMID 23206553. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
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  25. Wang JJ, Cugati S, Knudtson MD; et al. (2006). "Retinal arteriolar emboli and long-term mortality: pooled data analysis from two older populations". Stroke. 37 (7): 1833–6. doi:10.1161/01.STR.0000226929.23297.75. PMID 16741179. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)