Stroke Risk before and after Central Retinal Artery Occlusion: A Population-based Analysis

Ophthalmology. 2022 Feb;129(2):203-208. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2021.07.017. Epub 2021 Jul 23.


Purpose: To determine the risk of stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), and transient monocular vision loss (TMVL) before and after a central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO).

Design: Population-based, retrospective case series.

Participants: Patients diagnosed with a CRAO in Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1976 to 2016.

Methods: Patients living in Olmsted County with a diagnosis code of CRAO from 1976 to 2016 were reviewed. New CRAOs were confirmed, and stroke, TIA, and TMVL events in the 15 days before and after CRAO were recorded.

Main outcome measures: Incidence of stroke, TIA, and TMVL events in the 15 days before and after CRAO.

Results: Eighty-nine patients with a CRAO were identified, providing an annual incidence of 2.58/100 000 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.04-3.11). Median age at the time of CRAO was 76 years (range, 46-100 years); 56.2% were male, and 89.9% of the cohort was White. In the 15 days before and after CRAO, there were 2 ischemic strokes (2.2%), 1 hemorrhagic stroke (1.1%), 2 TIAs (2.2%), and 9 TMVL events (10.1%). Starting in 1999, 15 of 45 patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging within 2 months of CRAO. One patient (6.7%) had evidence of asymptomatic diffusion restriction, and 9 patients (60%) had a remote infarct.

Conclusions: This population-based study demonstrated that the risk of symptomatic ischemic stroke is 2.2% in the 15 days before and after a CRAO, which is slightly lower than most studies from tertiary centers. These data should be considered as practice recommendations are developed regarding the urgency of neurovascular workup in patients with acute CRAO.

Keywords: Central retinal artery occlusion; Cerebrovascular disease; Population-based study; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amaurosis Fugax / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / epidemiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Retinal Artery Occlusion / complications*
  • Retinal Artery Occlusion / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology