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As our arteries age, the walls stiffen and the lumen may become obstructed by cholesterol, platelets , thrombin and other organic debris. If a small piece of the arterial plaque breaks loose and lodges in your retinal artery, you can experience a transient loss of vision, such as partial or complete loss of vision in one eye (amaurosis fugax), or loss of visual field if you have a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.

Atrial fibrillation can cause a blood clot to form in the left-side chambers of your heart. If a piece of the cholesterol or clot breaks loose and travels to your ocular circulation, you could suffer a central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) or a branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO).

Hardened arterioles in the retina can disrupt the outflow of blood out of the eye, causing bleeding in the eye referred to as Central Retinal Vein Occlusion (CRVO) or Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVO) depending on the extent. Risk factors for CRVO and BRVO include cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure.

Patients placed on warfarin for cardiovascular disease may have minor bleeding under the conjunctiva known as a Subconjunctival hemorrhage. These are not sight threatening, but visually striking for the intense red discoloration of the normally white part of the eyeball.  They typically resolve in a few weeks.

If you are on blood thinners and plan to have eyelid or intraocular surgery eg cataract surgery, please let your ophthalmologist known before hand.

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