Silent Strokes

Patient Expert

It's been a little over a week since I had my Lasek surgery.

Everything went well. It was exactly how the doctor described. The recovery was lengthy and I became very frustrated at times. My brother qualified for Lasik, which is a different type of surgery to correct vision.

Lasik also uses lasers, but it allows you to see the next day. Lasek (ek) is what I had. It takes much longer to heal. My vision was cloudy for more than a week, as my eyes were healing. I couldn't read, drive, work on the computer or even watch television. Luckily, it is getting better each day.

Since I've been so involved with my eyes lately, I've been doing research on eye problems and how those problems can increase the risk for stroke. I know a stroke can hit anyone at any time. But, most of the time, the symptoms associated with a stroke allow us time to get help. Unfortunately, not with a "silent stroke." I didn't even realize there was such a thing.

According to a report published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found blood vessel abnormalities in the back of the eye (retina) can be associated with silent strokes. These strokes occur when smaller blood vessels in the brain become blocked or rupture.

One of the study's authors, Dr. Lawton Cooper says most people who have a silent stroke, don't even realize they've had one. He says typically, they don't involve classic stroke symptoms, such as dizziness or loss of motor skills. According to this study, silent strokes do increase the risk for a future major stroke and can even be associated with other problems like dementia.

Out of 1684 people involved in the study, an MRI discovered 183 of them had had a silent stroke. Abnormalities of small retinal blood vessels, if mild or moderate, don't usually produce eye symptoms and are rarely detected on routine eye exams. However, despite these findings, the researchers say that it's too soon to make a change in clinical practice. Future studies are needed to determine whether or not detecting changes in the eye can help prevent a stroke. Doctors say retinal photography is useful, though, in studying stroke and shows the need to do even more research into how these photographs could be used to prevent strokes.

I think it's amazing how much researchers are learning about stroke and a bit scary at how many different problems can trigger them. However, I do feel better that there are people out there constantly working to finds ways to prevent this deadly disease.