Classic visual symptoms are described as a shade coming down over the vision in one eye and then lifting. The symptoms can last from minutes to 24 hours and resolve completely. This is called amaurosis fugax.
Occasionally when a patient is seen soon after the symptom, we catch a view of a plaque in the blood vessels, but often there is no evidence.
An "eye stroke" is occlusion of the central retinal artery and results in painless, sudden, devastating loss of vision.
When a patient presents with eye symptoms, we recommend starting a baby aspirin, and follow up with a family doctor for carotid ultrasound, blood work, echocardiogram.
Visual symptoms present a risk factor requiring a full medical work up to rule out carotid and cardiac disease.