Central retinal artery occlusion: a retrospective study of disease presentation, treatment, and outcomes

Published:March 17, 2022DOI:



      A central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) represents a form of ocular stroke with poor visual prognosis. CRAO shares a common pathophysiology with cerebral ischemic stroke but presents unique diagnostic and management challenges leading to variability in clinical practice. This study aims to assess the presentation, treatment, and outcomes of CRAO at a tertiary care centre in Canada over 2 years and elucidate potential areas for improvement in the care of these patients.


      Single-institution retrospective review including 27 patients diagnosed with CRAO from March 2018 to March 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta.


      Most patients with CRAO presented to eye care providers (14 of 27); others presented to the emergency department (10 of 27) or family physicians (2 of 27). Three patients (11.1%) presented within 4.5 hours of symptom onset. At presentation, 81% of patients had visual acuity of 20/400 or worse in the affected eye. No patients received thrombolysis. The majority of CRAO cases had a nonarteritic etiology (92.6%). All patients had at least one pre-existing vascular risk factor. Forty-eight percent of patients received escalated medical therapy. Ipsilateral carotid stenosis was identified in 5 patients (18.5%); 3 patients required carotid endarterectomy. Two patients were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Two patients experienced symptomatic cerebral ischemia within 6 weeks of CRAO.


      The majority of patients with CRAO presented to eye care providers, and few present within the potential window for thrombolysis of 4.5 hours, highlighting the need for public awareness strategies. Our cohort highlights the significant rate of systemic comorbidity that exists in these patients.
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